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Bar News - May 21, 2014

NH Bar Foundation News: IOLTA Grants Growing

Bar Foundation IOLTA Grants –
FY 2015
The IOLTA grants for FY 2015 are:

NH Legal Assistance – receiving $562,000, up from $460,000. General operating funds for NH Legal Assistance, a statewide legal services organization representing vulnerable low-income people individually with advocacy at administrative hearings and in litigation; conducting policy advocacy through litigation, legislative lobbying and administrative rule-making.

NH Bar Association Pro Bono and Reduced Fee programs – $210,100 up from $150,000. Operation, administrative costs for Pro Bono Referral Program, leveraging $3 million of contributed attorney time providing civil legal services to low-income families, seniors, victims of abuse and other disadvantaged people. Included is Pro Bono’s DOVE Project which provides short-term legal representation to domestic violence victims in collaboration with crisis centers statewide. Also included is funding for Reduced-Fee Referral Program, operated by NHBA Lawyer Referral Program, that matches the “working poor” with attorneys charging capped legal fees. The civil legal needs addressed are similar to those affecting the poor, including parenting plans, divorce, domestic violence, bankruptcy, debt collection and foreclosure.

NH Bar Foundation Loan Repayment Assistance Program – $98,000, up from $89,500. Program provides tuition loan repayment assistance. This year, 13 staff attorneys at three legal services agencies will be assisted.

Disabilities Rights Center – $52,700, up from $50,000. General operating funds for targeted areas. This year, IOLTA funding to be used for casework, advocacy for children’s behavioral and emotional health.

Legal Advice & Referral Center – $37,200 up from $30,000. Operation, administrative costs for LARC, assisting low-income and vulnerable people with legal information and advice, referrals and outreach services. Clients assisted in avoiding homelessness, government benefits, child support and divorce from abusive relationships.
Grants for civil legal aid services rise to $960,000.

An improving economy enabled the NH Bar Foundation to boost the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts grants for civil legal-services providers by 23 percent for the coming fiscal year. Grants for the year starting June 1, 2014 (FY 2015) will total $960.000.

The NH Bar Foundation board accepted the recommendations of the IOLTA grants committee on specific allocations. Bar Foundation Chair Jack Middleton said it was a happy occasion to be able to increase grants for civil legal aid after several years of declines due to low interest rates and the stagnant economy. He also praised three legal services agencies – NH Legal Assistance, the Legal Advice & Referral Center and the NH Pro Bono Referral Program, for their cooperation in making a joint presentation to the grants committee.

IOLTA grants fund operation and administrative costs for civil legal aid providers and are the largest private source of funding for access to justice in New Hampshire.

In other actions, the Bar Foundation board briefly discussed recent work on the foundation’s strategic plan. After a retreat earlier this year, a working group was tasked with creating a new mission statement for the Foundation. Accepting a minor revision of the draft, the board approved the new mission statement as:

“The New Hampshire Bar Foundation promotes the role of lawyers in securing equal access to justice and supports the charitable and educational aims of the New Hampshire Bar and its members.

“The Bar Foundation carries out its mission by reliably administering the Supreme Court Rule 50 ‘Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts Program,’ responsibly managing the Foundation’s Justice Grants Program, and encouraging thoughtful philanthropy by members of the profession.”

The recent death of Ruth Ansell, a recently reelected member of the IOLTA Grants Committee, will require the appointment of a new member to complete the unexpired term. Interested candidates should contact Jeannine McCoy.

The Board also was informed that revisions to two court rules are in the works. A rule requiring that attorneys’ trust accounts have mandatory overdraft notification provisions is set for a public hearing before the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules on June 6. Also, a proposed rule requiring attorneys employed by title companies to be covered by the mandatory IOLTA rule is expected to appear on the rules committee’s public hearing agenda in the fall.

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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