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Bar News - May 15, 2009


Bar Foundation News - Grants Cut As IOLTA Revenues Fall Sharply

           

Experiencing the steepest one-year decline in IOLTA revenue in the program’s 27-year history, the New Hampshire Bar Foundation has significantly reduced its grants to legal services organizations for the coming year. Funding for law-related education programs was cut entirely for this year, and the Foundation has cut its operational expenses.

           

By 2006, IOLTA revenues had grown to $170,000 a month, allowing the Bar Foundation to award $1.7 million in grants to New Hampshire non-profits that year. Since that time, revenues had been slowly declining through the fall of 2008, when the economic downturn hit hard. The severe drop in interest rates last fall and lower deposits in IOLTA accounts due to decreased transaction activity have resulted in IOLTA income dropping to approximately $85,000 a month.

           

Anticipating the likelihood of reduced revenue, the NH Bar Foundation board used IOLTA reserve funds over the past two years to keep grant awards relatively stable. This fall, the Foundation advised grantees to prepare for significantly reduced grant awards, which has taken effect with the fiscal year starting June 1. Given the Foundation’s priority of assisting client populations in preserving housing and income, no funds were allocated to law-related education programs this year.

           

For fiscal year 2010, $830,000 has been awarded to nine nonprofit organizations providing civil legal services for the poor in New Hampshire.

           

The reduction in revenue has also made it necessary for the NH Bar Foundation to eliminate a staff position. Susan Noon, NHBF Program and Communications Director was laid off. David Snyder, executive director, and Mary White, finance and IOLTA coordinator, remain on staff.

           

“The combination of the drop in client funds deposited in IOLTA accounts and the reduction of interest rates at several banks has reduced the IOLTA revenue by more than half in just two years,” said Snyder. “I am thankful we had reserve funds to utilize that allowed us to provide a year’s notice to our grantees. The current participation in IOLTA by the 16 Leadership Banks who still pay interest rates from 2 percent to 3 percent on their IOLTA deposits, has been crucial to us having any funds with which to make grants in the coming year. Thank you for supporting our Leadership Banks.” 

 

 

FY 2010 IOLTA Grants:

 

$1,000 – Support Center at Burch House

Legal representation of victims of domestic and sexual violence.

 

$5,000 – International Institute of New Hampshire

To assist and represent refugees assigned to New Hampshire, including documentation assistance in the naturalization process; legal protection for victims of abuse; and achieving asylee status.

 

$10,000 – NHBA Reduced Fee Referral Program

Lawyer referral program connecting those with some limited capacity to pay for civil legal assistance with attorneys willing to work for a reduced-fee.

 

$12,000 – NH Pro Bono Referral Program DOVE Project

Legal representation for low-income domestic violence victims.

 

$20,000 – Disabilities Rights Center

Representation for individuals with a range of disabilities, including, cognitive, mental, sensory, and physical disabilities.

 

$25, 000 – Legal Advice & Referral Center

Toll-free call center and educational programs that provide legal advice, referral for representation, and pro se assistance to low-income callers.

 

$65,000 – NH Bar Foundation Law School Loan Assistance Program

For eligible staff attorneys working for NH Legal Assistance, Legal Advice and Referral Center, NH Pro Bono Referral Program, and the Disabilities Rights Center.

 

$113,000 – NH Pro Bono Referral Program

Pro bono civil legal services for low-income people on matters involving preservation of income and housing, family safety and stability, the best interest of children.

 

$579,000 – New Hampshire Legal Assistance

Legal services and education for low-income and elderly people, especially in matters of shelter, subsistence income, access to healthcare and protection from family violence.

 

For more information about the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, please visit us online: www.nhbarfoundation.org.

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