Report Released: And Justice for All

 The Center for American Progress released a Report entitled And Justice for All: Prioritizing Free Legal Assistance During the Great Recession!

According to the release site:

The Center for American Progress suggests the following in order to help manage this crisis:

  • Congress should increase fiscal year 2010 appropriations for the Legal Services Corporation. They should match the corporation’s request for $485.1 million or at the very least implement the House-passed figure of $440 million. Congress should also lift current restrictions on legal services organizations when it passes appropriations legislation because the restrictions waste resources and hinder the pursuit of justice.
  • Congress should pass H.R. 1728 and S. 718, which are pieces of legislation designed to expand the resources available to legal aid organizations.
  • States must avoid making cuts to legal aid programs while seeking creative solutions that actually increase funding for these vital services.
  • The private bar should continue to expand current efforts that are leading to increased amounts of pro bono service.

In addition to the report information, it reminds us all why public interest attorneys are necessary – to allow people of low-income or those of moderate means to access goods and services that they need to thrive, and in some instances, simply to survive.


A look at June

For some reason, I wanted to celebrate June on the blog. Maybe it’s because June introduces summer. And summer holds precious memories for many – school is dismissed, it’s a popular wedding month, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

Let’s take a look at history in June:

  1. June 1st Kentucky became the 15th state in 1792, Tennessee became the 16th state in 1796
  2. June 2 – 1924 President Calvin Coolidge signs the Indian Citizenship Act granting citizenship to Native Americans born in U.S. territories
  3. June 4th – 1919 Congress approves the 19th Amendment (Women’s Rights)
  4. June 6th – D-Day (1944)
  5. June 14th – Flag Day (USA)
  6. June 15th – Arkansas became the 25th state in 1836
  7. June 19th – Juneteenth aka Emancipation Day especially in Texas
  8. June 20th – 1863 West Virginia became the 35th state
  9. June 22-23 – Summer Solstice
  10. 3rd Friday – Midsummer (Finland & Sweden)
  11. 3rd Sunday – Father’s Day (USA)
  12. Gay Pride in honor of Stonewall Riots 1969
  13. Children’s Day in many countries
  14. June 30th – 1921 Former U.S. President (#27) William Howard Taft is Appointed as the 10th Chief Justice of the  United States



Summer Solstice: Famously Hot
Summer Solstice: Famously Hot

Now for the U.S. Senate’s Approval

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $40 million-budget increase for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC)in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill on February 25. 

The funding level is $390 million, a $40 million or 11.4 percent increase over the FY 2008 funding level of $350 million. The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week.


IOLTA Funds Need Protection – YOU can help!

I have just learned that the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TLGP) does not cover Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA). This is very disturbing!


FULL DISCLOSURE: The South Carolina Access to Justice Commission is funded by an IOLTA grant from the South Carolina Bar Foundation.


If you’re familiar with IOLTA, skip on ahead. If you’re not familiar with IOLTA, here’s a little background.

IOLTA is a way to support access to justice to people living in poverty without taxing the public or charging attorneys or their clients. IOLTA is pooled to provide civil legal aid to the poor and support improvements to the justice system.

When a client pays a lawyer, those funds must placed in a trust account separate from the lawyer’s own money. Typically funds in these accounts are used for court filing fees, real estate closing, settlements and retainers. If the funds are sufficient to generate net interest that to allocate directly to the client, then the client receives the interest. If not, the funds are deposited into an IOLTA account.

These funds, in conjunction with other grants and programs, enable non-profit legal service providers to people with civil legal matters.

Every state in the U.S. operates an IOLTA program. Between 1991 and 2003, IOLTA generated more than $1.5 billion nationwide to ensure justice for our country’s most vulnerable residents.

SOUTH CAROLINA. The South Carolina Supreme Court created the Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts or “IOLTA” program to provide funds for law-related public service projects and programs designed to improve the administration of justice. Rule 412, SCACR, governs the IOLTA program.

South Carolina’s history:

~established by Court rule in 1986 as a voluntary program
~became opt-out in 1987
~became mandatory in 2005

THE CRUX. Client funds in excess of $250,000, currently held in IOLTA accounts, are eligible for unlimited insurance if they are removed from the IOLTA account and placed in “non-interest bearing deposit transaction accounts.

Do attorneys hold client funds in excess of $250,000 in the IOLTA account, as mandated by court rule, OR place their client funds in a non-interest bearing deposit transaction account in order to qualify for the new insurance?

Attorneys hold their clients’ trust and confidence. Attorneys are bound by rules of conduct. (SC Rules)  Attorneys want to do what’s right. Attorneys want to follow the law.

How You Can Help. Please contact your United States Senator or Representative. Ask to speak with your Senator or Representative’s Financial Services/Banking Legislative Assistant and tell them you want IOLTA accounts to be covered under the TLGP. Ask the Congressional office to call or fax a letter to the FDIC NOW about their concern that IOLTA accounts should be covered under the TLGP. Follow up the call with an email explaining the importance of covering IOLTA under the TLGP.

Remember: IOLTA pays for legal assistance for people who have very little and are hoping that someone can help them through the legal maze.

Maybe they are victims of abuse and had to leave with only the clothes on their back. Maybe they lost their job in this distressing economy and now are about to lose their home. Maybe they are trying to chose between paying for life-saving medication and their rent because of an office mix-up. Maybe they’re your neighbor. Maybe your co-worker. Maybe , just maybe , YOU could be the voice that helps them.

Please make the call!