CHARLESTON – Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin awarded $100,000 in IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts) funds during a July 2 press conference in the Supreme Court Chamber.
The IOLTA program is a cooperative effort of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, the West Virginia Bar Foundation, the West Virginia Bankers Association, and the West Virginia State Bar. The program, initiated in 1990 by the Bar Foundation, has generated over $13 million in its 19 years of operation.
The IOLTA program allows attorneys to place short-term client trust funds in interest-bearing NOW accounts. Eighty percent of the interest earned on the accounts is distributed to the state's legal services programs, which provide free civil legal services to low-income citizens. Additionally, as approved by the Supreme Court, 15 percent of the funds are distributed to special projects, including the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in West Virginia. The funds also pay for legal interns from the West Virginia University College of Law to work in Legal Services offices, a special Elder Law Project, and provide legal services for abused and neglected children.
"The people who are benefitting from this are our friends, our acquaintances," Chief Justice Benjamin said. "They are people trying to make their money last until the end of the month.
"The Court commends the lawyers and financial institutions that have participated in this effort. Many men, women, and children who would otherwise go unserved have been assisted with their civil legal cases."