Just what you need to know

About us

All attorneys in Vermont are required to place client funds in trust. If the funds are large enough or held long enough to generate significant interest, that interest is returned to the client.

In most cases, however, client funds amount to so little, or are held for such a short time, that the interest is insignificant. In these cases, interest is put into IOLTA instead. Nationwide, all those tiny amounts of interest add up to millions of dollars each year. And those millions are disbursed to provide legal aid to people with low incomes.

In Vermont, IOLTA generates in the range of $850,000 each year. Vermont IOLTA funds are held by the Vermont Bar Foundation, which disburses the funds to a number of legal aid organizations, including Have Justice-Will Travel, Legal Services Law Line of Vermont, Vermont Legal Aid, Vermont Law School South Royalton Legal Clinic, and the VBA Legal Assistance Programs.

WHY YOUR CHOICE OF BANK MATTERS

Not all banks pay the same rate of interest for IOLTA accounts. Especially in times when interest rates are low, it’s important to choose a financial institution that pays the highest interest rate possible for your IOLTA account. Doing so means more money for legal aid programs, and better access to justice for the people in your community. That’s why the Vermont Bar Foundation encourages you to bank with our Gold and Silver Leadership Institutions.


SERVICES FOR LEGAL PROFESSIONALS

IOLTA

All attorneys in Vermont are required to place client funds in trust. If the funds are large enough or held long enough to generate significant interest, that interest is returned to the client.

In most cases, however, client funds amount to so little, or are held for such a short time, that the interest is insignificant. In these cases, interest is put into IOLTA instead. Nationwide, all those tiny amounts of interest add up to millions of dollars each year. And those millions are disbursed to provide legal aid to people with low incomes.

In Vermont, IOLTA generates in the range of $850,000 each year. Vermont IOLTA funds are held by the Vermont Bar Foundation, which disburses the funds to a number of legal aid organizations, including Have Justice-Will Travel, Legal Services Law Line of Vermont, Vermont Legal Aid, Vermont Law School South Royalton Legal Clinic, and the VBA Legal Assistance Programs.

WHY YOUR CHOICE OF BANK MATTERS

Not all banks pay the same rate of interest for IOLTA accounts. Especially in times when interest rates are low, it’s important to choose a financial institution that pays the highest interest rate possible for your IOLTA account. Doing so means more money for legal aid programs, and better access to justice for the people in your community. That’s why the Vermont Bar Foundation encourages you to bank with our Gold and Silver Leadership Institutions.

POVERTY LAW FELLOWSHIP

Supporting exceptional young attorneys as they work to increase legal access for low-income Vermonters.

The Vermont Poverty Law Fellowship was launched in 2008. It is funded by generous contributions from more than 300 law firms, individual attorneys, corporations and organizations. The Fellowship provides two years of support to exceptional young attorneys who work to increase legal access for low-income Vermonters.

LOAN REPAYMENT ASSISTANCE

The Vermont Bar Foundation’s statewide Loan Repayment Assistance Program (VBF-LRAP) provides forgivable loans for licensed attorneys employed in non-profit organizations dedicated to serving the civil legal needs of low-income individuals and families in Vermont or employed by the Office of the Defender General.

"The Vermont Bar Foundation loan repayment assistance program is essential to being able to attract qualified candidates to public service jobs."
— Matthew Valerio, Defender General, State of Vermont
The goal of VBF-LRAP is to increase access to justice, and to assist civil legal aid organizations and the Office of the Defender General in recruiting and retaining qualified lawyers. It is designed to support attorneys who would be precluded from accepting work or unable to continue to work in qualifying employment because of salaries that do not support their student loan debt burden.

ELIGIBILITY

LICENSURE
All participants must be licensed to practice law in the State of Vermont.

EMPLOYMENT
LRAP is currently open to attorneys employed by:

Disability Rights Vermont
Have Justice-Will Travel, Inc.
Legal Services Law Line of Vermont
Office of the Public Defenders, (employees)
Safeline
South Royalton Legal Clinics of Vermont Law School
Spectrum Youth and Family Services
Vermont Legal Aid, Inc.
Other organizations may apply for approval to the VBF Board of Directors.

EMPLOYMENT STATUS
Participants may be employed full-time or part-time. Assistance to part-time attorneys is pro-rated.

FINANCIAL ELIGIBILITY
A participant’s salary may not exceed $60,000.

ELIGIBLE LOANS
Undergraduate, graduate and law school loans will be considered in determining the amount of assistance. Family and personal loans are excluded. Also excluded are loans for other than educational purposes.


SERVICES FOR NON-PROFITS

GRANT PROGRAMS

The Vermont Bar Foundation offers grants to organizations that help low-income Vermonters gain access to the justice system and provide public education relating to the law.

The Foundation’s funds come primarily from its Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Program, a successful partnership between Vermont lawyers and the banking and credit union communities. The Foundation disburses funds through two grant programs.

THE NON-COMPETITIVE GRANTS PROGRAM

The Non-Competitive Grants Program provides funds annually to grantee organizations. There is no application process for these grants. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded the bulk of its funds to Vermont Legal Aid, which provides direct legal services at no charge to disadvantaged Vermonters. More recently, the Foundation has expanded non-competitive grant recipients to include LawLine Vermont, Vermont Law School’s Legal Clinic, Vermont Bar Assocation’s Legal Access Coordinator and Have Justice-Will Travel.

THE HON. JOHN A. DOOLEY COMPETITIVE GRANTS PROGRAM

The Competitive Grants Program is comprised of grantees chosen through an annual application process. The organizations chosen for the Competitive Grants provide direct legal services to low-income Vermont residents and educate Vermonters about the law.

2017 COMPETITIVE GRANTS PROGRAM
The Board of Directors of the Vermont Bar Foundation will be accepting grant applications from Vermont not-for-profit entities.

CURRENT GRANT

In 2017, Vermont Bar Foundation approved 19 grants to local and statewide projects that provide either civil legal services to disadvantaged Vermonters or education to the general public about the courts and legal matters.

THE HON. JOHN A. DOOLEY COMPETITIVE GRANTS 2017

Association of Africans Living in Vermont — $10,000
Immigration Project
The AALV is one of the only Vermont organizations — and the only organization in greater Burlington — addressing the immigration legal needs of indigent asylum seekers, torture survivors, resettled refugees, and other immigrants. Funding will support pro bono immigration legal services.

Rutland County Women's Newwork & Shelter — $3,000
Legal Assistance Project
Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter (RCWN&S) is a non-profit human service agency dedicated to assisting survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Their focus includes outreach, education, advocacy, and crisis services to the communities of Rutland County with the goal of protecting those who are victims of abuse, while working to prevent and decrease instances of further abuse. Funding will support representation by local attorneys, on a reduced-fee basis, as needed for issues such as divorce and child custody.

Steps to End Domestic Violence (fka WHBW) — $2,500
Weekly Legal Clinic
The mission of Steps to End Domestic Violence, formerly known as WHBW, is to assist in the transition to a safe, independent life for all those who have been affected physically, sexually, emotionally, or economically by domestic abuse and to promote a culture that fosters justice and safety. Grant funding will support the weekly legal clinic available to low-income survivors of domestic abuse residing in Chittenden County.

The Community Restorative Justice Center — $5,000
The Legal Clinic
The mission of the Legal Clinic is to provide one-time legal assistance and advice at no cost to residents of Caledonia and southern Essex Counties. Funding will help cover support staff for the free monthly legal clinic to low-income residents, and victims of domestic violence throughout the Northeast Kingdom.

Vermont Bar Association
Legal Assistance Projects
The Vermont Bar Foundation funds a number of the Vermont Bar Association’s County Legal Assistance Projects. These efforts provide low-income Vermonters with legal representation in specific cases in civil, family, and probate divisions of the Vermont Superior Court to low-income, pro se litigants. Areas of focus include landlord/tenant, foreclosure, collections, involuntary guardianship, final divorce hearings, divorce stipulation, and child-support contempt cases. Funding will cover representation on a reduced-fee basis.

Addison County Legal Assistance Project — $2,000
Bennington County Legal Assistance Project — $2,000
Franklin/Grand Isle Legal Assistance Project — Carry Over
Rutland Pilot Project — $18,000
Washington County Legal Assistance Project — $1,000
Windham County Legal Assistance Project — Carry Over
Windsor/Orange Counties Legal Assistance Project — $6,200
Vermont Bar Association — $2,100
"On Your Own: Your Legal Rights at 18" Publication
This booklet contains a general overview of the legal rights and responsibilities that a person should be aware of when reaching legal majority at age 18. This resource guide will provide essential education to youths on a variety of subjects, promoting legal education and fostering respect for the rule of law. Funding will support printing and copying expenses.

Vermont Ethics Network — $3,9000
"Making Medical Decisions for Someone Else" Handbook
This handbook offers important information to health care agents, guardians, case managers and others who are in the position of having to navigate and/or support those making difficult and complex heath decisions, particularly at the end of life. Funding will cover the design, layout, printing and copying.

Women’s Freedom Center — $3,500
Legal Representation
The Women’s Freedom Center works to address the immediate needs of women experiencing stalking, sexual assault, and domestic violence while providing systems advocacy to transform the policies that affect their lives. Funding will assist low-income victims of domestic and/or sexual violence with access to legal representation on a reduced-fee basis.

WomenSafe — $3,000
Legal Assistance Program
WomenSafe works toward the elimination of physical, sexual and emotional violence against women and their children through direct service, education and social change. Funding will cover representation, on a reduced-fee basis, to women who have experienced domestic and sexual violence through custody and divorce proceedings in Addison County and Rochester.

NON-COMPETITIVE GRANTS 2017

Have Justice–Will Travel, Inc. — $20,000
Legal Empowerment Assistance Program
LEAP is a natural progression of the HJWT model and the organization’s effort to end the generational cycle of abuse in rural families. The program allows Have Justice to offer long term, on-going direct legal services to pro se litigants looking for advice and/or legal education throughout their case. Funding will support the LEAP Coordinator.

Vermont Bar Association — $22,400
Legal Access Coordinator
The Legal Access Coordinator provides a centralized system to encourage, coordinate, and track the delivery of pro bono services in Vermont. The Coordinator continues to identify and unify pro bono efforts throughout the State, publicize and promote the work of pro bono attorneys, recruit and provide training for pro bono attorneys in areas of need, and coordinate with existing access to justice programs and projects. Funding will help support the Coordinator’s salary and benefits.

Vermont Law School, South Royalton Legal Clinic — $57,450

South Royalton Legal Clinic
The Legal Clinic provides a broad range of effective, free legal services to vulnerable, disadvantaged residents of Central and Southeastern Vermont. Its primary goals are to provide high-quality legal services to low-income people and to help law students develop essential lawyering skills. Funding will cover a portion of the operating expenses of the Children First! and the Vermont Immigrant Assistance Projects.

Vermont Law School, South Royalton Legal Clinic — $35,831
Vermont Veterans Legal Assistance Project
VVLAP helps veterans achieve positive legal outcomes on issues like disability benefits and discharge status or with civil legal issues, allowing them to resolve the income, family, and other concerns that cause enormous stress as they return to civilian life. This grant will allow the SRLC to continue the work started by the Vermont Bar Foundation’s Vermont Poverty Law Fellow.

Vermont Legal Aid, Inc. — $745,500

Staff Support
VLA has been providing civil legal services to low-income Vermonters since 1967. They provide information, advice and representation in a wide range of civil legal areas including health care, housing, education, family law, public benefits, and consumer law. VLA’s Projects supported by this grant – Poverty Law Project, Senior Citizens Law Project and Disability Law Project.


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