Bar News - July 19, 2013
NH Bar Foundation: Total IOLTA Grants Up 20 Percent in 2013
By: Dan Wise
The New Hampshire Bar Foundation has approved $780,000 in grants for core programs providing civil legal services to disadvantaged people statewide from the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts program.
IOLTA revenue increased in the past year, and the grants total this year represents an increase of 20 percent over last years funding level of $650,000, which was the lowest grant level in five years.
IOLTA revenue remains well below the highs it reached in the past decade. While interest rates remained relatively low last year, transaction activity, reflecting general economic trends, has been rising.
The most significant sources of support for the IOLTA grants program are the nine Leadership Banks that pay above-market interest rates on IOLTA accounts. Accounts at these nine institutions, all NH-based community banks, accounted for 55 percent of IOLTA revenue, up from 49 percent the previous year. There are a total of 41 banks participating in IOLTA.
We are pleased that the Bar Foundation was able to modestly increase most of the grants this year, said Jeannine McCoy, executive director of the Bar Association. The past few years have been extremely challenging for the legal services organizations as their other sources of funding were shrinking. It was gratifying for the Foundation to be able to do a little better for them this year.
The following are the IOLTA grants approved for the current fiscal year:
New Hampshire Legal Assistance $460,000 for general operations. NHLA provides high-quality civil legal services to vulnerable and low-income people. Its services include providing simple legal advice and informal advocacy with local, state or federal agencies, and litigation in state and federal courts. Its attorneys and paralegals have expertise in housing, government income and health care programs, and domestic violence.
NH Pro Bono Referral Program $137,500 for operations and administration. Pro Bono leverages the donated services of hundreds of NH attorneys to provide critical, sometimes life-transforming civil legal services. Pro Bono attempts to serve those clients where legal intervention is likely to make the most difference and recruits, trains, and mentors volunteer attorneys from diverse practice settings. IOLTA grant funding for basic operating costs allows Pro Bono to provide core services and avoid becoming a loosely-knit collection of special projects.
NH Bar Foundation Law School Loan Assistance Program $89,500. This funding supports an ongoing loan forgiveness program for staff attorneys at NH Legal Assistance, Legal Advice & Referral Center, and the Disabilities Rights Center. Twelve attorneys currently receive assistance through this program.
Disabilities Rights Center $50,000 partially offsets unforeseen and unprecedented reductions in federal grants awards that provide the major source of funding for the DRC, which provides critical advocacy services to NH citizens.
Legal Advice and Referral Center $30,000 to support operational and administrative costs. LARC helps low-income and vulnerable people statewide with legal information, legal advice, referrals and outreach services in the areas of family law, benefits and welfare; and housing. LARC also provides self-help materials in many areas of the law. Find out more at www.nhlegalaid.org.
NH Pro Bono Referral Program Domestic Violence Emergency Project (DOVE) $8,000 will support basic operational and project costs for program providing short-term legal services to low-income victims of domestic abuse. DOVE operates in collaboration with crisis centers statewide to provide victims with access to volunteer lawyers on an expedited basis for representation and advice on extricating themselves from abusive relationships.
NHBA Reduced-Fee Referral Program $5,000 supports program to connect low-income residents, in many cases, the working poor, with attorneys accepting significantly reduced rates for their services. The experienced, trained staff of the NHBA legal services department provides referrals and valuable legal information, as well as direction to other resources, for eligible clients.
For more information about this and other grant programs, visit www.nhbarfoundation.org.