Significant Events in GBLS' History

2013   In August 2013, the court approved a settlement agreement in GBLS’ federal class action lawsuit against the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) for disability discrimination.  GBLS on behalf of three individuals with disabilities filed the federal class action lawsuit in 2007.  Harper v. DTA advanced two core claims:  DTA (1) didn’t have adequate systems for providing reasonable accommodations, even when the agency agreed they were warranted; and (2) used everyday practices that screened out people with disabilities from SNAP (Food Stamps) and cash assistance programs, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  The landmark agreement realizes the goal of the case, namely to improve access for individuals with disabilities through systemic change.  However many of the changes, such as improving readability and content of all written notices and forms, will benefit all clients, not just those with disabilities.

2006   GBLS settles a major class action suit against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (T) that will greatly improve access to public transportation for the 200,000 people with disabilities who live in the T’s service area.  This is particularly important for those who are poor and have no alternative form of transportation to get to work, school, or doctors appointments.

2001   GBLS donors contribute $2,000,000 to the Access to Justice Endowment Campaign to permanently endow attorney positions at GBLS.

2000   GBLS celebrates its Centennial Anniversary and pledges 100 more years of providing quality legal services to poor people in the greater Boston area.

1999   Increased giving by a broad array of donors results in staff numbers returning to pre-1996 major budget cut level.  Numbers of clients served rise for the first time in three years.

1996   GBLS relinquishes $1,400,000 in federal funding due to major restrictions imposed by Congress. (Any of recipients’ funding from any source could not be used for class-action work, representing immigrants, or advocacy with state and federal agencies.)

GBLS determines we cannot fulfill our mission if we adhere to these restrictions.  We choose to withdraw from receipt of federal LSC funds.  This loss results in our closing our neighborhood offices and being forced to lay off 20% of our staff.  GBLS and CASLS merge to reduce administrative expenses.

1994   Boston's legal community's support of its Capital Campaign enables GBLS to purchase 197 Friend Street as a permanent home.

1981   Major cuts are made to federal funding of legal services.

1976   Greater Boston Legal Services is formed by the merger of Boston Legal Aid Society and the Boston Legal Assistance Project.

1974   Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is established by Congress to fund legal services programs and becomes our primary funder.

1971   Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services (CASLS) is established.

1964 Boston Legal Assistance Project (BLAP) founded as part of the War on Poverty under the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity.

1900   A group of Boston attorneys in private practice found the Boston Legal Aid Society (BLAS) to meet the civil legal needs of the poor. BLAS primarily serves immigrants, with an emphasis on individual case work.