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IOLTA Participation Mandatory Pursuant to Order of Mississippi Supreme Court

Friday, May 26, 2006

  • Organization: Brennan Center's Legal Services E-lert
Low-income Mississippians in need of civil legal aid got a boost recently when the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that private attorneys must participate in the IOLTA program. The new requirement is expected to create additional funding for civil legal aid.

Nonetheless, overall funding for civil legal aid in the state is likely to stay the same because in 2005-06 federal funding for civil legal aid shrunk. In 2005, Mississippi legal services programs received slightly more than $4.8 million in LSC funding, or approximately $8 in legal representation for each person with income beneath the federal poverty level.

The move to mandatory IOLTA participation follows the Mississippi Supreme Court's other recent steps in helping low-income people, including those affected by Hurricane Katrina, obtain the legal assistance they need. Martha Bergmark, President and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Justice, says, "Mississippi's equal justice community is truly fortunate to have the leadership of our Supreme Court in expanding access to justice. The recent ruling on mandatory IOLTA follows the Court's actions last year to require mandatory pro bono reporting and to permit out-of-state attorneys to provide pro bono assistance to Hurricane Katrina survivors."

State High Court Orders Lawyers to Contribute to Fund for the Poor
, Associated Press, May 23, 2006; also based on original reporting by Brennan Center staff.
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