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Bar News - July 13, 2012

Bar Foundation News: Bar Foundation Grants $650,000 For Legal Services

The NH Bar Foundation has approved $650,000 in grants for core programs providing civil legal services to disadvantaged people statewide from the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts program.

IOLTA Grant Levels Decline

IOLTA interest revenue has steeply declined during the recession; the decline in grants from IOLTA has lagged to provide transition time for grant recipients to adjust to the lower levels of funding. IOLTA grantmaking has declined from $1.6 million in fiscal year 2009 to $650,000 in the current fiscal year ending May 31, 2013.
While revenue from IOLTA grants has recovered somewhat from the lows hit in the depths of the recent recession, the fiscal year 2013 grant level is the lowest in five years. For the past two years, the grant levels had been maintained at a higher level relative to the revenue to cushion the blow for the grantees and, ultimately their clients, of a steep drop in IOLTA funding. All of the grantees have suffered steep declines in revenue from other grant sources, including the state and federal governments.

IOLTA Interest revenue remains well below the highs it reached in the past decade. Historically low interest rates, plus lower levels of transaction activity have kept IOLTA revenues down and will keep them down for the foreseeable future.

"The decline in IOLTA revenue is disheartening, especially when the programs and the people they serve are struggling more than ever," said Jeannine McCoy, NHBA Executive Director. "The Foundationís partnership with New Hampshire Banks and attorneys has kept New Hampshire IOLTA income in better health than in many states facing the same pressures. The Foundation is streamlining IOLTA administration while encouraging and assisting the best bank and lawyer participation possible in IOLTA. This remains a remarkable program, raising $30 million in 30 years in New Hampshire.

The following are the IOLTA grants approved for the current fiscal year:

New Hampshire Legal Assistance - $435,000 for general operations (service to clients). Within its priority areas of housing, subsistence income, access to health care, domestic violence, elder rights, and youth law, NHLA chooses cases that are likely to have the most positive effect on both individual clients and on others with the same legal problem.

NH Pro Bono Referral Program - $115,000 for operations and administration to help maintain core Pro Bono functions and basic legal representation to those who need it most. The Pro Bono Referral Program recruits, trains, and mentors volunteer attorneys and involves attorneys in diverse fields in assisting access to justice through direct representation and other avenues of assistance.

NH Bar Foundation Law School Loan Assistance Program - $77,000 to support an ongoing loan forgiveness program for staff attorneys at three NH nonprofit agencies (NHLA, LARC and DRC).

Disabilities Rights Center - $7,000 augments other funding sources to assist DRC in addressing the demand for legal services in three areas targeted for this grant: juvenile justice/Sununu Center; mental health conditions; and the lack of Medicaid coverage for critical services for uninsured low-income autistic children.

NH Pro Bono Referral Program - Domestic Violence Emergency Project (DOVE) Ė $6,000 will support basic operational and project costs for program providing short-term legal services to low-income victims of domestic abuse.

NHBA Reduced-Fee Referral Program - $5,000 supports program to connect low-income residents with attorneys working at reduced fees.

Legal Advice and Referral Center - $5,000 to support its outreach to non-English speaking residents in financial and tax literacy and to supplement operational costs for LARCís free legal advice and counseling services to about 3000 eligible, low-income people annually primarily over the telephone in the principal areas of family law, benefits , and housing matters. LARC serves as the primary referral resource for about 5000 people annually seeking legal help of any kind.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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