The Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission & CLAVC

Funding for the Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime (CLAVC) project comes from the 1984 federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).  Under VOCA, the federal Crime Victims Fund was established to manage and disperse millions of dollars received each year from federal criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalty fees, and forfeited literary profits.  VOCA funding has supported a range of victim assistance services in Massachusetts for decades, but not civil legal aid attorneys. Significant increases in distribution amounts to each state, as well as changes in regulations, greatly expanded potential access of VOCA funds for civil legal aid.

In 2015, members of the Commission proactively worked with partners at the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA), Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), legal services organizations, and the advocacy community advocates to make the case that one of the most pressing unmet needs of crime victims was access to a lawyer.  Together, these stakeholders developed a compelling initiative for an inter-organizational program to support crime victims in every part of the state, now known as CLAVC.

The result: In 2017, MOVA allocated a total of $8.3 million to MLAC for the delivery of civil legal services to victims of crime in Massachusetts over the next two years. These funds support a project overseen by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute equipping 26 staff attorneys positioned at legal services across the state to work directly with crime victims and their families to provide the legal support they desperately need.