The Access to Justice Commission is pleased to welcome members of the former MSBA Delivery of Legal Services Section to the Access to Justice Commission’s Delivery of Legal Services Committee!
A2JC is an independent entity that is powered by the MSBA. Since we commenced our institutional partnership with the MSBA, the A2JC has been increasing the profile of access to justice issues and delivering results! Through multiple high level Task Forces with the Attorney General’s Office and successes in advocating for a statewide access to counsel in evictions, over $40M in civil legal funding and a slew of other civil justice reforms, A2JC views the merger with the DLS Committee as an opportunity to be even more potent collectively. Moreover, we are excited to be the home for attorneys who are interested in the fair administration of justice and public interest law.
As you may be aware, last year the MSBA Board of Governors, as part of a larger Strategic Implementation effort, voted to make the former DLS Section a Committee of the Access to Justice Commission, with the view that the realignment with A2JC would enhance the work of the DLS Section. The former DLS Section Council voiced objection to the decision, which we took seriously and worked effectively to resolve. After constructive dialogue with the MSBA, A2JC and the former DLS Section Council liaison, I am pleased to report that we are now in a place to move forward with the transition.
As we begin this process, I want to start by communicating the unique relationship A2JC has with the MSBA, which helps explain the realignment. A2JC is both an independent entity and also a part of the MSBA. This means that as members of the A2JC DLS Committee, your experience will remain substantially similar to your experience as a MSBA DLS Section member. You remain part of the MSBA, but now will just be more aligned with its public interest apparatus.
Additionally, to ensure a seamless transition, it was imperative to arrive at solutions to the three concerns raised by the MSBA Section Council – namely, the former section’s ability to advocate; plan programs and events; and have a home for those interested in public interest law within the Bar. Here are steps we have undertaken to assuage these concerns:
- Advocacy. The DLS Committee will have the same level of autonomy in advocating with the legislature or with other elected officials as it did as an MSBA section. The A2JC proposed and adopted bylaws changes that would ensure the DLS Committee would be able to take advocacy positions independent of the A2JC’s. Additionally, we will create a distinct logo and letterhead for the DLS Committee, that will signal A2JC and MSBA’s backing of the DLS Committee, but also its autonomy. We expect these changes and closer coordination with A2JC will bolster the DLS Committee’s advocacy efforts.
- Programs & Events. There will be no negative impact on the DLS Committee’s ability to continue to host CLE programs and hold networking events. Moving forward, there will be no additional fee for an MSBA to join the A2JC DLS Committee, but MSBA will support the Committee’s activities at the same level as the section membership would have allowed. In addition, the collaboration with A2JC, there is tremendous potential to grow these programs & events to make them more potent.
- Community. There will be no negative impact on the ability of MSBA members to join the DLS Committee or build a strong community at the A2JC. In fact, we hope to offer more ways for MSBA members to join this Committee. During this year of transition, all former DLS Section members will automatically be migrated to become DLS Committee members at no charge. Additionally, MSBA will add the DLS Committee as an option on its existing committee list, for which the MSBA accepts requests throughout the year. Further, starting with the next renewal cycle, the DLS Committee will be listed alongside other MSBA sections as an option for MSBA members to join at no additional cost. Finally, the DLS Committee will continue to have its own Connect Community, just as other sections of the MSBA. A2JC is excited to build and empower this community and serve as its home.
Beyond addressing the issues raised by the former Section Council, the A2JC is already thinking of many ways to enhance the potency of the DLS Section. As just one example, this year, as the A2JC undertakes an update to its 3-year Strategic Plan, we have intentionally included members from the former DLS Section Council who are also Commissioners in that process to ensure that we incorporate the DLS’s Committee’s perspective as we forge our strategic priorities.
Currently, A2JC already has three Commissioners who were also members of the former DLS Section Council. They will be advising us on the transition and we expect to meet with the entirety of the former Section Council soon to adopt a transition plan, with a view to ensuring the DLS Committee can proceed with its advocacy effectively during the upcoming legislative session in January.
While the A2JC did not initiate this change, we are committed to ensuring its success and confident that the merger with the former DLS Section poses many opportunities for collaboration that will be a boon to both entities and increase our collective impact.
We are thrilled to welcome all of you to the Access to Justice Commission Delivery of Legal Services Committee and look forward to working with you in the future.
If you have any questions, feel free to email the Executive Director of the A2JC, Reena Shah at firstname.lastname@example.org.