This originally appeared in the Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association’s publication, The Ledger (Issue 1, Volume 1)
IOLTA Grant Review Update by Bruce Williams, Member – Shuttleworth PLLC
The IOLTA (Interest On Lawyers’ Trust Accounts) program was established by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1984, and the responsibility for its administration was assigned to the Tennessee Bar Foundation. The purpose of the program is to raise funds to be distributed, in the form of grants, to organizations in Tennessee that provide direct legal services to the indigent and to organizations that seek to improve the administration of justice. IOLTA has granted over $20,390,060 to providers of these services in the state.
TDLA selects one of its members to serve on the Tennessee Bar Foundation’s Grant Review Committee, which assesses the merits of those various grant applications for awards. The Committee members are assigned individual responsibility for investigating and vetting up to three applications. Each Member reports to the full Committee at its annual meeting each November. The Committee then recommends awards to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees for final decision.
For 2015, the Committee proposed awards totaling $465,825 to providers of direct legal services such as The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands and Memphis Area Legal Services. In addition, grants were made totaling much less to organizations that seek to improve the administration of justice, such as domestic violence prevention organizations and Tennessee CASA Association. The TBF Board of Trustees adopted the committee’s recommendations as proposed.
We resume our work in October, vetting applications for calendar year 2016. This process is time well spent working with top lawyers and judges from across the state. I appreciate the opportunity to serve TDLA in this role.