Tomorrow is the deadline for 2014 grants. In years past I would have said IOLTA grants, but for 2014 IOLTA funds will make up only 29% of the $381,000 the foundation has available to give out. This year’s grants will be awarded in December and will be the lowest amount of grants the foundation has awarded since 2007. Eighty percent of the foundation’s grants go to groups that provide free civil legal aid to low income residents of Alabama such as the state and local bar Volunteer Lawyers Programs and Legal Services Alabama.
We are entering our sixth year of record low interest rates, which means that IOLTA revenue continues to be low. The highest amount of IOLTA revenue the foundation has ever received was $1.3 million in 2008, the first year IOLTA was mandatory. That year our revenue was $1.3 million. IOLTA interest for the current year is expected to be about $400,000. Luckily, several steps have been taken over the past several years to decrease our dependence on funds from IOLTA.
The foundation board established the Atticus Finch Society to generate funds to build an endowment and provide a permanent source of funds for our grant programs. Our Atticus Finch contributions and Fellows contributions have combine to give us a total endowment of $3.4 million in value. Each year we withdraw 5% of the value of the fund and add it to our funds available for grants. This year that amount will be $131,000.
Thanks to the efforts of the Alabama Access to Justice Commission and past state bar president Sam Crosby the Supreme Court of Alabama increased the pro hac vice fee to $300, with $200 coming to the foundation for access to justice. This year pro hac vice fees have generated $100,000.
The foundation receives other contributions as well, from individuals and law firms. In 2012 we were fortunate to receive funds from a national cy pres award. We retained $38,000 of those funds for 2014 grants.
Thanks to the wisdom of our board we have laid a solid base of funding for the future when interest rates rise. We look forward to the time we can once again award grants of close to $1 million.