VLP Statement

The shooting we have seen this week is a stark reminder of the need to decry the racial, ethnic, and gender-based violence that has remained a consistent part of our nation’s culture.  

This latest travesty is one instance in a long legacy of cruelty.  Such acts of violence instill fear which takes away a basic sense of safety that allows humans to reach their full potential.  

Women of all backgrounds, LGBTA+ citizens, folks who are Black, and Americans of Asian heritage deserve safety and security, and their lives matter.  We stand against all violence, and we will continue our work to fight injustice.

-Joanna Allison, Executive Director

VLP Thanksgiving Schedule

VLP & our call center ERLI are open today, tomorrow, and part of Wednesday. Please note our Thanksgiving schedule: Weds (11/25) we will close at 2:30 p.m., and we will be closed Thurs (11/26) and Fri (11/27). Stay safe!

In Memory of Chief Justice Ralph Gants

Chief Justice Gants once said: “There is abundant room for discussions that begin with the words, ‘What if…?'”

This lifelong attitude was part of what made Ralph Gants a true pillar in the legal community.  For him, “What if?” was not just a rhetorical question–it was a challenge.  Chief Justice Gants championed progress and access to justice. He was never afraid to speak up, even if he spoke alone.  Chief Justice Gants spoke out about injustices and corruption, and he inspired hope in a fairer justice system.  It was in that spirit that he helped create the Access to Justice Commission in Massachusetts.  Knowing he was paying attention to citizens with needs, and looking out for any future needs of the Commonwealth, was something we could always count on.  

One of his later decisions was to close the courts statewide back in March. This decision was unpopular, and he faced loud opposition, but it ended up saving lives and it truly embodies his “people first” perspective.  He always said that being the smartest person in the room wasn’t going to help anyone if you were not, first and foremost, a human being.

After the stay-at-home order had been issued, Chief Justice Gants was asked if any measures were being taken to help those dealing with Civil Appeals.  “I’m not sure,” he said.  “Let’s make it happen!”  He saw a need, and he did whatever he could to help make a solution to that need.  

Chief Justice Gants recognized that VLP was a leader, and the right organization to be tasked with the creation of a Civil Appeals virtual clinic.  Chief Justice Gants knew how “agile, imaginative, and persevering our judicial workforce can be,” and therefore he had nothing but faith and confidence in organizations like ours as new realities of the Covid-19 pandemic set in. He once said that “there would be no justice without VLP.”

To mourn a public hero is difficult, but to grieve a friend hurts all the more. Chief Justice Gants was a vocal and active supporter of VLP since being appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and he has touched so many of our lives professionally and personally. We all can honor Chief Justice Gants’ spirit by continuing to persevere and by holding onto that inspiring voice in the back of our minds which spurs us on even when times are tough.

To quote Chief Justice Gants, we must keep going so that a future generation will say of us, “This was their finest hour.”

You’re Invited!

VLP's logo against a silhouette of the Boston skyline.

Join us for VLP’s 2020 Virtual Volunteer Appreciation Event!

This year, we will be coming to you live on Zoom.  You will still learn about our fantastic awardees and hear from our incredible keynote speakers, but now you can attend from the comfort of your own home!

Please RSVP to the event here.
(You will receive the Zoom link upon registration.)

Keynote Speakers

  • Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell
  • Ms. Thelma Ajike, J.D.

Join us in celebrating our volunteers and honoring our awardees:

Gideon’s Trumpet Award

  • Hon. Joan Feeney (Ret.)

Denis Maguire Awards

  • Caryn Mitchell-Munevar, Esq.
    New England School of Law
  • Joel Gardiner, Esq.
  • Ryan Rosenblatt, Esq.
    Sullivan & Worcester LLP
  • Samuel Bombaugh, Esq.
    Sullivan & Worcester LLP

We hope you can join us!  Stay happy and healthy!

Call Center Hours During COVID

Our callcenter, ERLI, has new hours!  We will keep you posted if anything changes but the updated hours for Eastern Region Legal Intake are as follows:


Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 9AM-12PM
Tuesday & Thursday: 12:30PM-3:30PM


Thank you and stay healthy!

Your Rights in Small Claims Court During the Pandemic

Because of the coronavirus COVID-19, the Trial Court, which includes Small Claims Court, has made some new rules:
  • POSTPONED COURT DATES: All pending Small Claims cases are postponed until no earlier than Monday, May 4, 2020. 
That means if your Small Claims case is currently scheduled for any date before May 4, 2020, you do NOT have to go to court. If a debt collector wants a telephone (rather than in-person) hearing before May 4, 2020, they must file a motion showing why they want an earlier date. You should receive notice of any new court date by mail. If you don’t receive notice of a new date, you can look up your case file online at www.masscourts.org or call the court where your case is scheduled.  
The attorney for the company suing you might reach out to you urging you to sign an agreement to pay outside of court. We strongly urge you to get advice before signing any agreement, even one that does not require you to make payments now. You may have defenses in these cases and the company suing you cannot force you to make payments without a court order. 
Please do not sign an agreement without consulting an attorney. 

Thank you and stay safe! 

VLP Clinics Update

Please note: in compliance with recommendations from the CDC, our clinics are now scheduled to reopen as of May 4th (5/4/2020). Stay safe and thank you for your patience!