Texas Access to Justice Foundation
AUSTIN, Texas – The following statement was issued today by Richard L. Tate, chair of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation board of directors:
“The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) welcomes the news of an increase in the federal funds rate as announced today by the Federal Reserve. The Texas Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account (IOLTA) program, administered by TAJF, relies on the interest from funds held in lawyers’ trust accounts to support civil legal aid services for disadvantaged Texans.
“While this is a small step in the right direction, interest rates will continue to be at historic lows even with this increase. This negative impact on IOLTA revenue will persist in Texas, and throughout the country, as we struggle to meet the demands of our current poverty population in need of civil legal services.Thousands of Texans rely on legal aid funding and access to the justice system to protect their rights, their freedom, their homes, their livelihoods, and their families.
“Since 2007, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, which is the primary state-based funder of legal aid in Texas, has experienced a loss of more than $110 million due to declines in funding from the state’s IOLTA program. IOLTA funding has plummeted from $20 million in 2007 to a projected $4.9 million in 2015—a decline of approximately 75 percent.
“We have been fortunate to have the support of the Supreme Court of Texas and Texas Legislature to fill some of the gap created by the loss of IOLTA funding to maintain basic civil legal services in Texas. We also appreciate the continuing support of our Prime Partner banks that have maintained higher interest rates during this period to generate additional funding. We will continue to work, along with our partners in access to justice, on ways to make up the funding losses in IOLTA revenue to strive to meet our mission of ensuring access to justice for all.”
The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the largest state-based funding source for the provision of civil legal aid in Texas. The organization is committed to the vision that all Texans will have equal access to justice, regardless of their income. The Foundation administers a variety of funding sources, which are earmarked to assist nonprofit organizations in providing legal aid to more than 100,000 Texas families each year.
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