News Release

Texas Access to Justice Foundation 
November 29, 2022

Wells Fargo joins Prime Partner bank program
Program boosts funding for legal aid in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas –– The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, the largest state-based funding source for civil legal aid, announced today Wells Fargo is the newest and one of the largest banks to join the Foundation’s Prime Partner bank program, a significant step toward making legal assistance more accessible for thousands of Texans. Funding from this program helps TAJF provide legal aid services to more than 100,000 Texans across the state each year. 

Prime Partner banks and credit unions voluntarily pay higher interest rates for Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts, a method of raising money for civil legal aid and to support improvements to the justice system. Prime Partner financial institutions pay 75% of the Federal Funds Target Rate on IOLTA accounts, which is well above the eligibility requirements for banks participating in the IOLTA program.

“Many Texans are facing serious economic hardships, including evictions and domestic violence situations, and simply do not have the funds to hire an attorney,” Deborah Hankinson, chair of the board of directors for the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, said. “By paying higher interest rates on IOLTA accounts, Prime Partner banks help ensure that low-income Texans have access to basic and essential civil legal services. We welcome a well-known and leading financial institution like Wells Fargo to the Prime Partner program.”

Approximately 5.2 million Texans qualify for legal aid, the second-highest number in the nation. Legal aid organizations help Texas families each year, but due to a lack of resources, many continue to suffer or unsuccessfully attempt to represent themselves in the complex court system.

“Wells Fargo is dedicated to serving our communities and one of the ways we can do that is as a Prime Partner supporting the Texas IOLTA program, which funds legal services for thousands of vulnerable Texans,” said Liesl Brown, Product Management Senior Manager for Wells Fargo. “We are proud to become a Prime Partner and hope that the additional funds generated will make a significant difference in the lives of those in need of civil legal aid services.”

Attorneys who handle client funds are required to keep those funds in IOLTA accounts until they can be made available to a client. TAJF receives funding from the interest generated by these accounts and uses the money to distribute grants to legal aid providers throughout the state.

During the pandemic, when interest rates fell drastically to near zero, the IOLTA program lost nearly half its funding. Prime Partners are critical to increasing this funding source that is essential to helping many of Texas’ most vulnerable residents. 

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Texas Access to Justice Foundation The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the primary 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 approximately 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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