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Bar News - June 9, 2006

Justice Dalianis Joins Bar Foundation to Address Bankers


On May 5 in North Conway, Hon. Linda S. Dalianis, Senior Associate Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court joined David Snyder, executive director of the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, in addressing 50 bank presidents at the New Hampshire Bankers’ Association Spring CEO Meeting to review the purpose and emphasize the significance of the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Grant Program.


The IOLTA Program, currently in place at 40 NH banks, was approved under Rule 50 by the NH Supreme Court in 1982. IOLTA allows interest to be earned on certain accounts that wouldn’t normally earn interest. The IOLTA revenue is forwarded to the Bar Foundation by the banks to be used for charitable purposes. Rule 50 states that “the interest or dividends received by the Foundation shall be used solely by the Foundation for support of civil legal services to the disadvantaged, for public education relating to the courts and legal matters, and other such programs as may be approved by the NH Supreme Court.” 


Since 1977, through the IOLTA Grants Program and the Justice Grants Program, the NH Bar Foundation has invested more than $20 million in New Hampshire organizations, including NH Legal Assistance, the NHBA Pro Bono and Law-Related Education programs, NH Domestic Violence Coalition shelters, Children’s Alliance of NH, and many other organizations providing civil legal assistance to the disadvantaged and law-related public education.

Snyder provided an overview of the need for civil legal services for our most vulnerable residents, including the 90,000 people living in poverty, thousands of domestic violence victims, homeless adults and their children, the elderly and the disabled. A review of the state’s demographic profile illustrated that there are tens of thousands who are in need of free or low-cost civil legal services. Fortunately, a majority of cases are handled without going to court. In many cases, all a person needs is an advocate, someone who has knowledge of the law, someone who can make a telephone call to a state agency or write a letter or conduct a meeting that will help protect their essential rights. In some cases direct representation in court is needed, especially in areas of domestic violence.


More than a dozen nonprofit organizations receive grant funds annually from the Bar Foundation’s IOLTA Grant Program and, among them all, they serve thousands who would have nowhere else to turn for legal assistance.


Justice Dalianis gave her perspective from 25 years of experience as a judge. She asked the assembly, “Why should you be involved in helping to fund legal services for the poor or the disadvantaged in our state? Here’s what I think. Fair and efficient resolution of civil legal disputes about issues that are fundamental to daily life is vital to the overall strength of our neighborhoods and communities. No one benefits in our society when these disputes are left unresolved, or even escalate, because a low-income person couldn’t afford any legal assistance. It makes sense doesn’t it, that as citizens we all have an interest in resolving these problems before they get even worse and have an even wider impact on our communities. That’s why the IOLTA program is an investment in the common good....because the unmet legal needs of the disadvantaged really affect us all.”


New Hampshire Bankers’ Association President Gerald Little thanked the Justice and David Snyder for their presentation. NH Bar Foundation Chair Paul W. Chant, thanked the bank presidents for their support of the IOLTA Program and highlighted the significance of the IOLTA Leadership Banks whose higher interest rates provide 87 percent of all IOLTA revenues.


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