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Bar News - October 17, 2008


Bar Foundation News: No-Cost Philanthropy for Lawyers

No-cost philanthropy may sound like an oxymoron, but there is a way attorneys can provide thousands of dollars to support civil legal aid for New Hampshire’s lowest income residents without spending a dime – through the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. Yes, 89 percent of eligible attorneys do participate, but if the remaining 11 percent opened IOLTA accounts it would make a tremendous difference for the many disadvantaged people in New Hampshire who must reach out to the legal community for help.

We can help you enroll in IOLTA and answer your questions. Please contact the Bar Foundation at 603-224-6942 or info@nhbarfoundation.org.

If you already have an IOLTA account, you can help by checking the interest rate on your account and asking your banker to increase the rate, especially if your rate is below 2 percent.

(IOLTA Leadership Banks in New Hampshire agree to pay a minimum of 2 percent on IOLTA accounts). Often, it only takes a single phone call to change a rate – and that rate change will translate into thousands of dollars for the IOLTA Grants Program. By taking a few moments to review your account now, you will have played an important role in helping those much less fortunate than yourself at this very difficult economic time.

"For many decades, the legal community has been a staunch supporter of the IOLTA Program," said David Snyder, executive director of the NH Bar Foundation. "Attorneys should be extremely proud of their high participation rate in this program."

The NH Bar Foundation’s newly established IOLTA Enhancement Committee, chaired by Richard Uchida, includes Russell Hilliard, Mary Susan Leahy, Kathleen Robinson, Celia Leonard, Judge Philip Hollman, Doug Hill, and Marilyn McNamara. This group is meeting every other week to pursue the most expedient solution to the problem of rapidly declining IOLTA revenue. If the 11 percent of eligible, but non-participating attorneys opened IOLTA accounts and all the IOLTA accounts paid a minimum of two percent, the program would generate at least an additional $300,000 this year – even in this troubled economy. What a tremendous gift that would be for New Hampshire’s poor and elderly!

"We are alarmed by the fact that several legal aid organizations have had to lay off attorneys and paralegals recently. Grant funding is down and projections for future funding are grim. However, we are encouraged by the overwhelming majority of New Hampshire lawyers and judges who have expressed their strong support for the IOLTA Program, and I believe that will go a long way toward achieving the goals of the IOLTA Enhancement Committee," said Snyder. "The legal aid community is faced with a significant reduction in IOLTA Grants next year due to the drop in IOLTA revenues we’ve been experiencing over the past year. In the months ahead, I hope to be able to report success in stemming this steep decline in IOLTA revenue."

If you would like assistance talking to your banker, or more information on how you can support this effort, please contact the Bar Foundation at 603-224-6942 or info@nhbarfoundation.org

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