News Release

 

November Recognized as Prime Partner Bank Month

Program Boost Funding for Legal Services in Texas

 

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF)  announces the month of November as Prime Partner Bank Month, a month aimed at encouraging attorneys to utilize Prime Partner Banks. The Foundation applauds the financial institutions and attorneys who help raise money for free legal services for low-income Texans.

Every year, thousands of Texans face serious legal problems and need the help of an attorney, but cannot afford one. Due to their low income, 5.3 million Texans qualify for free legal assistance from legal aid organizations throughout the state. However, legal aid providers only have the resources to meet 10 percent of the need for their services. Faced with issues such as avoiding foreclosure or eviction, escaping situations of domestic violence, and securing personal safety and privacy after a sexual assault, many low-income Texans are left to navigate the justice system alone.

All attorneys who handle client funds are required to have an Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) account. Settlements and judgments are placed in these accounts until checks clear and funds can be made available to a client. The interest earned on these accounts is pooled into funding for legal aid organizations. In Texas, the funds are managed and distributed by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF).

“The IOLTA program is an innovative mechanism to provide funding for free legal help to victims of domestic violence, veterans, and families on the verge of homelessness,” Richard L. Tate, chair of the board of directors for the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, said.  “But it has one shortfall – the money raised to help low-income Texans is tied to interest rates. While low interest rates may be ideal for Texans looks to buy a home, they mean devastating drops in the funding available for legal aid programs.”

Since 2007, Texas legal aid programs have lost more than $128 million in funding due to low interest rates.

Knowing that adequate funding for legal aid programs is imperative to ensuring the sanctity of our justice system, nearly 60 financial institutions in Texas have voluntarily become Texas IOLTA Prime Partners, banks and credit unions that pay higher interest rates on IOLTA accounts to generate more money for legal aid. By making this investment in access to justice, these institutions are also making direct investments in the future of their communities. 

“At PlainsCapital, we believe strongly in supporting the communities we do business in,” Jon Levy, president PlainsCapital Bank-Austin Westlake, said. “Through the Prime Partner Program, we have the opportunity to directly impact our most vulnerable Texans by helping fund legal representation for those who can least afford it.”

See a current list of Prime Partner banks in Texas at: /span> hhttp://www.teajf.org/financial_institutions/prime_partners.aspx

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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. For more information, please visit: www.teajf.org..

 



Contact: Kimberly Schmitt
512-320-0099, ext. 104
kschmitt@teajf.org

 

 

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