Bar News - September 16, 2015
NH Bar Foundation: IOLTA Dollars at Work: Support for NH Legal Aid Organizations
Last year, the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts program issued $960,000 in grants. Here are some highlights from the work the grants funded.
NH Legal Assistance received $562,000 from the IOLTA program for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.
The IOLTA-funded grant helped NHLA to assist 7,062 people, including clients and their family members.
NHLA’s priorities include preserving housing and preventing homelessness; assisting recipients in obtaining or retaining income, health care and education benefits for which they are eligible; targeted family law advocacy for endangered adults and children; protecting low-income consumers from financial exploitation; and policy advocacy to extend the impact of its work.
As an example of the impact of its benefits-eligibility work, the average duration of the Social Security disability benefits NHLA obtains for its clients is 9.6 years.
Pro Bono Referral Program received $192,000 from IOLTA and leveraged close to $2 million in donated legal services.
Pro Bono assisted 4,666 low-income adults and children, including 795 new low-income families. Another 429 applicants received assistance in a variety of ways, including referral to other programs.
The composition of Pro Bono’s caseload includes bankruptcy and debt collection assistance, eviction defense, basic estate planning assistance, low-income taxpayer disputes, and family law, including contested matters with and without domestic violence involvement.
Legal Advice & Referral Center received $37,200 through IOLTA. Providing primary intake services for civil legal aid in the state, LARC staff had some level of contact with more than 7,000 clients and either provided services or facilitated a referral for 3,180 clients, or 44 percent. Of those, 53 percent received legal advice or referrals, 53 percent of cases involved housing issues and 40 percent concerned family law matters.
The website maintained by LARC, www.NHLegalaid.org, was visited by 92,440 unique users during the grant year, and saw a 20.5 percent increase in the number of page views (294,786).
Pro Bono Domestic Violence Emergency Project (DOVE) received $12,000 through IOLTA.
Attorneys volunteering through DOVE provided 671 hours of services for limited-scope representation at restraining order hearings, contributing more than $100,000 in donated legal services (estimated at $150 per hour.) During the grant period, 118 new DOVE cases were opened.
Disability Rights Center – NH received $52,700 from IOLTA.
DRC receives principal funding from the federal government as a designated Protection & Advocacy organization for disabled people. It has used its IOLTA grant to help fund casework and other forms of advocacy to improve children’s behavioral and emotional health.
DRC conducted investigations of residential facilities where complaints occurred, most notably Lakeview Neuro-Rehabilitation Center. Following the death of a young man at Lakeview, a DRC investigation uncovered hundreds of incidents of neglect and abuse of young residents at the facility. The facility led to state government involvement, license revocation and closure of the troubled facility this summer.
Want to know more? Agencies receiving grants submit year-end reports to the NH Bar Foundation, which are posted at www.nhbarfoundation.org.