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Supreme Court Approves Grants to Support Civil Legal Services for Low Income Iowans

July 7, 2016

Des Moines, July 7, 2016—The Iowa Supreme Court has approved $239,998 in grants to nonprofit programs that provide legal assistance to low income Iowans with civil legal problems. The court awarded grants to fourteen different organizations throughout Iowa. The grants are funded by the Interest on Lawyers' Trust Account (IOLTA) program. With this year's grants, the supreme court has awarded more than $24.4 million in IOLTA grants since the program began on July 1, 1985.

"Far too many Iowans cannot afford to hire an attorney to resolve the civil legal problems that affect the most basic necessities of life—shelter, food, and health care," Chief Justice Mark Cady said. "Despite the outstanding contributions from legal aid organizations in Iowa and the thousands of Iowa attorneys who volunteer their time, a substantial need for such legal services remains. The IOLTA grant recipient organizations can help fill that need."

IOLTA grant funds are generated entirely from interest earned on certain pooled trust accounts held by Iowa lawyers. Lawyers practicing law in Iowa are required by court order to deposit clients' funds the lawyers hold in interest-bearing accounts. When the funds involved are so small in amount or held for such a brief period of time that it is not possible for the funds to economically benefit the individual client, court rules require that lawyers deposit the funds in pooled interest-bearing trust accounts.

The IOLTA program is managed by a seven-member commission that reviews grant applications and then makes award recommendations to the supreme court. In the 30-year history of the IOLTA program, the supreme court has awarded most of the grants to organizations that assist low-income Iowans with civil legal problems such as divorce, domestic abuse, unsafe housing, and illegal evictions. The court has also presented grants to law-related education projects. IOLTA grants do not support criminal legal defense.

The following grants will be awarded for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016, and ending June 30, 2017:

Iowa Legal Aid (Des Moines)—$121,298.00

For legal staff in Iowa Legal Aid regional offices for an established program of civil case assistance to low income Iowans (service area: statewide).

Muscatine Legal Services—$5,745.00

For legal staff to maintain an existing program of civil legal assistance to low income Iowans (service area: Muscatine County).

Legal Aid Society of Story County (Nevada)—$7,034.00

For legal staff support to maintain an existing program of civil legal assistance for low income Iowans (service area: Story County).

Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project (Des Moines)—$26,297.00

For staff for volunteer lawyer referral service in Polk County serving the low income community (service area: Polk County).

Sioux County Low Fee Panel, Sioux County Bar Association (Sioux Center)—$1,582.00

Funds civil legal assistance for economically disadvantaged individuals in the Sioux County area (service area: Sioux County).

The Iowa State Bar Association Public Service Project (Des Moines)—$26,646

For staff support to the Access to Justice Commission, which is expected to have a positive impact on financial resources, pro bono services, and other support for legal services for low income Iowans (service area: statewide).

Civil Legal Assistance Fund, Second Judicial District (Mason City)—$5,018.00

Funds civil legal assistance to low income fathers, mothers, or children involved in dissolution of marriage or modification cases in which other legal assistance is not available (service area: Second Judicial District).

Know Your Constitution Committee of the Young Lawyers Division, The Iowa State Bar Association (Des Moines)—$1,854.00

Funds for the Know Your Constitution Program, which provides education to Iowa high school students about the United States Constitution (service area: statewide).

Clinical Law Program, Drake University Law School and University of Iowa College of Law Legal Clinics (Des Moines, Iowa City)—$7,314.00

Funds to continue the Poverty Law Internship Program, a clinical law program in which upper level law students intern with legal assistance providers throughout the state (service area: statewide).

Iowa Legal Aid (Des Moines)—$17,580.00

For legal staff support to continue the Legal Hotline for Older Iowans (service area: statewide).

Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (Des Moines)—$4,423.00

Funds legal services for student victims of sexual assault and attorney training specific to the issues of sexual assault on Iowa youth (service area: statewide).

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (Des Moines)—$5,018.00

Funds legal services to low income immigrants involved in removal proceedings or other immigration law matters (service area: statewide).

Kids First Law Center (Cedar Rapids)—$2,662.00

Funds legal services to children in high conflict divorce and custody cases when their parents cannot afford counsel for them (service area: Linn and Johnson counties).

Appanoose County Bar Association (Centerville)—$2,509.00

Funds civil legal assistance for economically disadvantaged individuals in the Appanoose County and Monroe County areas (Service area: Appanoose and Monroe counties).

Civil Legal Assistance Fund, Third Judicial District (Sioux City)—$5,018.00

Funds civil legal assistance to low-income fathers, mothers, or children involved in dissolution of marriage or modification cases in which other legal assistance is not available (service area: Third Judicial District).

For More Information:

Paul H. Wieck II, Director of Office of Professional Regulation
Office of Professional Regulation
Judicial Branch Building
1111 East Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319
Telephone: (515) 725-8029

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