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.
Overview of Grant Process
The Iowa Supreme Court Lawyer Trust Account Commission accepts applications for grants under the Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) program on an annual basis. Grant periods run on a fiscal year from July 1st through June 30th. IOLTA program grants are awarded to public purpose projects that provide legal services to low-income persons in civil cases, law-related education, and other programs that improve the administration of justice in Iowa.
The Commission must receive completed grant applications no later than the date specified. The Commission then reviews the applications and seeks approval from the Iowa Supreme Court for awarding the grants. Grant recipients are usually announced in late May or early June.
Grant Program Report Form (PDF). Use this form to submit the program evaluation report required of most grantees following the end of the first six months and twelve month of the grant year.
Grant Year (2022-2023)
On June 8, 2022, the Iowa Supreme Court approved $241,373.17 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.
The following grants will be awarded for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022, and ending June 30, 2023:
Iowa Legal Aid (Des Moines)—$147,739.99
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)—$6,858.00
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)—$32,109.00
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)—$6,000.75
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—$2,481.58
Funds legal support staff to assist victims of sexual assault (service area: statewide).
Iowa Legal Aid (Des Moines)—$21,499.14
For legal staff support to continue the Legal Hotline for Older Iowans (service area: statewide).
Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice (Des Moines)—$6,209.09
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)—$3,341.22
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)—$7,134.39
Funds legal services in civil case assistance to low-income Iowans (service area: Story county).
Civil Legal Assistance Fund, 3rd Judicial District (Sioux City)—$3,000.00
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).
Iowa Center for Children’s Justice (Des Moines)—$2,500.00
Funds legal services to children in high-conflict divorce and custody cases when their parents cannot afford counsel for them (service area: Polk and Dallas counties).
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (Des Moines)—$2,500.00
Funds legal services to refugee and immigrant victims of crime and their families and humanitarian-based immigration matters (service area: Polk and Dallas counties).