June 20, 2021

Supreme Court approves grants to support civil legal services for low-income Iowans

DES MOINES – 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.

For more information, visit iowacourts.gov or call 515-348-4670.