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Bar News - December 21, 2016

NH Bar Foundation: IOLTA by the Numbers...


Bob Shaines Estate Bequest

The NH Bar Foundation gratefully acknowledges receiving a gift of $10,000 from the estate of Robert Shaines, a business and corporate lawyer who co-founded the Shaines & McEachern law firm in Portsmouth.

Shaines originally pledged as a member of the Justice Society, a planned giving initiative, in September 1997. Jack Middleton, Foundation chair, is overseeing efforts to renew and reaffirm contacts with members of the Bar who have made bequests or pledges, and to make outreach to all members of the New Hampshire legal community to include the NH Bar Foundation in their estate plans.

The NH Bar Foundation’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Account program is the largest source of private funding for civil legal aid in our state. IOLTA grants support the work of organizations such as the Disability Rights Center- NH, NH Legal Assistance, the Legal Advice & Referral Center, and NHBA’s Pro Bono program, assisting thousands of low-income citizens with advice and representation on civil legal issues.

The revenue earned through IOLTA represents interest paid to interest-bearing pooled accounts holding client funds that would be impractical and inefficient to set up for each individual client. The interest paid on these accounts is directed to the NH Bar Foundation for charitable purposes. In recent years, IOLTA has focused on civil legal aid funding exclusively.

IOLTA programs exist in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. In New Hampshire, 48 banks and credit unions participate in the NH Bar Foundation’s IOLTA program. Here’s a look at the program by the numbers:

$32.4 million – Amount distributed by NH IOLTA since its inception in 1982.

$800,000 – Amount granted for the last fiscal year ended May 31, 2016. This year, IOLTA took a more conservative approach, granting only $700,000, which reflected declines in revenue and the lack of a financial cushion due to the prolonged period of near-zero interest rates.

9 – The number of institutions (banks and credit unions) paying up to 2 percent on IOLTA accounts in New Hampshire. (See accompanying list for Leadership Circle institutions.) No other state in the Northeast has as many banks paying 2 percent on IOLTA accounts. Maine has eight banks paying 2 percent or more; Vermont has five; there are no banks paying interest on IOLTA accounts at those levels in Massachusetts, Rhode Island or Connecticut, or New York.

8 – The number of banks and credit unions paying between 1 and 2 percent on IOLTA accounts (known as Partner Institutions).

84% – Revenue from Partner and Leadership Circle accounts totaled more than 84 percent of IOLTA revenue last year, with Leadership Circle institutions accounting for 51 percent of the total and Partner Institutions 33 percent.

$4.8 million – Estimated difference over six years (2011-2015) between the actual amount earned by IOLTA and the amount that would have been earned if New Hampshire deposits earned only the lower interest rate of .25 percent on IOLTA accounts. (.25 percent is the average overall rate paid by non-Leadership or non-Partner institutions during that period.)

What you can do: IOLTA accountholders can truly make a difference in helping to boost funding for access to justice through civil legal aid programs. Find out what rates are being paid on your firm’s IOLTA accounts. If your financial institution is not paying a higher than market rate, encourage the financial institution to support the work of IOLTA.

Dan Wise is director of outreach and communications for the NH Bar Foundation.

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