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

May 5, 2021

The Iowa Supreme Court has approved $195,695.03 in grants to non-profit programs that provide legal assistance to low-income Iowans with civil legal problems. The court awarded grants to eleven 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 $25 million in IOLTA grants since the program began on July 1, 1985.

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 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, 2021, and ending June 30, 2022:

Iowa Legal Aid (Des Moines)—$116,330.70

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 (Muscatine)—$5,400.00

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

Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project (Des Moines)—$25,282.68

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

Civil Legal Assistance Fund, Second Judicial District (Mason City)—$4,725.00

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).

Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault—$1,954.00

Funds legal support staff to assist victims of sexual assault (service area: statewide).

Clinical Law Program, Drake University Law School and University of Iowa College of Law Legal Clinics (Des Moines, Iowa City)—$7,089.67

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)—$16,928.46

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

Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice (Des Moines)—$4,889.05

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)—$2,630.88

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).

Legal Aid Society of Story County (Ames)—$5,617.63

Funds legal services in civil case assistance to low-income Iowans (service area: Story county).

Appanoose County Bar Association (Des Moines)—$2,484.46

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, 3rd Judicial District (Sioux City)—$2,362.50

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:

Office of Professional Regulation

Judicial Branch Building

1111 East Court Avenue

Des Moines, IA 50319

Telephone: (515) 348-4670

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