February 2014 NEWSLETTER
Alabama Law Foundation Announces 2014 Grants
– Part One
Over eighty percent of the foundation’s grants are awarded to organizations that provide free civil legal aid to low-income residents of Alabama.
Every year the Alabama Law Foundation announces its yearly IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer’s Trust Accounts) grants to programs committed to the foundation’s mission of making access to justice a reality for all of Alabama’s citizens. However, currently the foundation is facing a serious shortage of grant income.
IOLTA, the main source of funding, is determined by interest rates. The sixth year of record low rates on IOLTA has resulted in dramatic cuts in the 2014 grants. The Alabama Law Foundation is working to meet the shortage by a variety of on-going fundraising projects. The foundation decided to award available funding and assign additional resources at a later date.
As Alabama’s major grant maker for legal aid, the Alabama Law Foundation annually distributes at least 80 percent of its revenue to programs that provide legal aid to citizens who cannot afford an attorney and programs that improve the administration of justice.
Programs that provide legal services for the underserved collectively received IOLTA grants totaling $398,400.
The Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program, which refers cases directly to lawyers in 64 counties and coordinates over 1,998 volunteers, received a $56,000 IOLTA grant.
The Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program, which refers cases to 1542 attorneys in the Birmingham area, received an $80,000 IOLTA grant.
The Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama received a $40,000 grant to continue providing low-cost, quality legal and immigration services to low-income immigrants.
The Huntsville/Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program works with 290 Lawyers and received a $32,000 grant. Legal Services Alabama (LSA) provides legal aid to economically disadvantaged citizens throughout Alabama. LSA received a $50,000 grant.
The Montgomery County Volunteer Lawyers Program, which opened in 2013, works with 430 lawyers to meet the legal needs of low income clients in Montgomery County; they received a $14,000 grant.
The South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program refers cases directly to lawyers in Mobile, Baldwin, Clarke, and Washington counties; they received a $54,400 grant.
The YWCA of Central Alabama received a $48,000 IOLTA grant to continue the “Justice on Wheels” program for victims of domestic violence.
The Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, the only grantee in the category of “Administration of Justice,” received IOLTA grants totaling $24,000.The EJI assists attorneys appointed to capital cases in the post-conviction stage and supplies some representation to indigent defendants.
In these times of economic hardship, many families in Alabama find themselves in need of legal services they cannot afford. Alabama Foundation President Tom Oliver explains that “the funding is at an all-time low, and yet there remains significant legal need.” The Alabama Law Foundation will continue to explore ways of raising grant revenue in order to fund legal aid programs and help build a stronger, more democratic society by making access to justice for all citizens in Alabama a reality.
Alabama Law Foundation Opt-Out Contribution Included with 2014 Client Security Fund Assessment
On Thursday, January 2, 2014, bar members received email reminders to pay their 2014 CSF assessment of $25.00. AT that time, member can also make a $50.00 tax-deductible contribution to the Alabama Law Foundation in the form of an opt-out check-off.
Normally the Client Security Fund and the Alabama Law Foundation have nothing to do with one another. The Client Security fund reimburses clients whose lawyer has misappropriated their money. The Alabama Law Foundation makes grants to groups that provide free civil legal aid to the underserved as well as awarding the Kids’ Chance and Justice Janie Shores scholarships. However, this year the Alabama State Bar Board of Bar Commissioners approved the check-off to help make-up for a 62% decrease in IOLTA revenue since 2008.
The foundation has initiated other fund raising efforts so that other funding sources are 72% of 2014 approved grants. However, the $398,400 the foundation board approved is down from $500,000 in 2013. The consequence of this loss in revenue is a 20% cut to the grants for the Volunteer Lawyers Programs, Legal Services Alabama, and other grantees. The state’s five Volunteer Lawyer Programs had already received cuts of 40% in Legal Services Corporation funding, making their situation especially dire.
At this writing, just 5,500 out of 17,000 lawyers have made their CSF payment, so there is still time and opportunity for many to participate in the check-off.
Alabama Lawyers have always stepped up in times of need, and 2014 is one of those times. The Alabama Law Foundation would greatly appreciate law firms making the $50.00 contribution for each member of the firm. The foundation plans on making supplemental grants of the fund received this spring. The CSF check-off is something different this year that helps Alabama lawyers make a difference.
2013 Kids’ Chance Scholarship Awarded
Kids’ Chance Scholarship Fund helps students whose parent or parents have been permanently disabled or killed on the job to attend college or technical school. When a parent is killed or disabled in an on-the-job accident, a family’s standard of living is lowered and, therefore, parents cannot help their children with the costs of higher education. Realizing that these students need help, the Workers’ Compensation Section of the Alabama State Bar founded Kids’ Chance in 1992.
Kids’ Chance is administered by the Alabama Law Foundation. The awards for this school year totaled $29,500 bringing to $574,000 the successful program has awarded to more than 202 students since 1993. Kids’ Chance scholarships support these young people’s academic goals and career dreams.
The Kids’ Chance Scholarship recipients for school year 2013-2014 are as follows:
Nicholas Barbre, Athens
Judith Burroughs, Bessemer
Nicholas Burroughs, Bessemer
Cassidy Cambron, Phoenix City
James Duggan, Gulf Shores
Summer Faulkner, Troy
Amy Fleming, Brundidge
Garrett Lawrence, Calera
Harry Griffin, Jr., Elba
Kristen Johnson, Moody
Karlie Oliver, Russellville
Nicholas Owens, Sylacauga
Yana Rodgers, Jackson
From Dressing Up to Making a Difference: Hannah Hooks Named Janie L. Shores Scholarship Recipient
The Justice Janie L. Shores Scholarship, named in honor of the first female Alabama Supreme Court Justice, is awarded to one or more female Alabama residents attending an Alabama law school.
When Hannah Hooks was in elementary school in Rainbow City, AL, her teacher asked the students to dress up as someone they admired. Hannah dressed up as Eleanor Roosevelt because she “wanted to be a person who stood for something, without reference to my gender.” Even in Elementary School, Hannah’s career dream was to be a lawyer. However, the culture in a small north Alabama town was not particularly supportive of her dream. In her home town, most young men went to work in the factory and most young women married and started families. Hannah says, “My proposals of college and law school were met with snickers and eye rolls.” Hannah was also aware that becoming an attorney required years of expensive education. Her father worked in a factory and her mother in a local doctor’s office. Where would funding come from? Indeed, doubts loomed and shouted, “Why do you think you can do this?” But Hannah’s answer to those doubts was “Why Not!”
Hannah graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Communication Arts from the University of Alabama in 2012. Hannah worked hard in college: “I always took a full load of courses and signed up for extra-curricular activities like they were giveaways.” Hannah served as the Ambassador for the Alabama Student Society for Communication Arts, and as secretary for the Student Executive Council. Hannah connected to community by volunteering at Brewer Porch Children’s Center and Wings of Grace Tornado Relief. Hannah also worked 20 hours a week in the College of Continuing Studies at UA as a student assistant to help support herself during her undergraduate studies. One of Hannah’s professors described her as “the embodiment of service and integrity.”
After graduation Hannah took the next step to achieve her career dream and was admitted into fall 2013 classes at The University of Alabama School of Law through UA Honors Admission program. Again the doubts appeared. One of her friends challenged her: “Aren’t you satisfied yet?” True, she had graduated with honors and was also proud of her volunteer work where she learned that “giving just a little of myself often meant a whole lot to someone else.” However, she also had to face the issue of money for law school tuition. Hannah began looking for financial assistance and discovered The Justice Janie L. Shores Scholarship.
The Women’s Section of the Alabama State Bar established the scholarship in 2006 for female residents attending an Alabama law school. Allison Skinner, the chairperson of the scholarship committee, explains, “ We recognized the rising cost of tuition and wanted to support just such a deserving law student as Hannah and encourage female participation in the legal profession while honoring a terrify role model and jurist.” Hannah says that she is confident her own “career aspirations and love for the law align with the thoughts and beliefs of Janie L. Shores.”
Hannah began her journey many years ago by dressing up as a woman she admired, a woman who made a difference, Eleanor Roosevelt. Hannah likes to quotes Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Hannah remains true to her dreams, despite doubt and obstacles: “As a woman in the South, I have overcome a lot of adversity to achieve the goals I have accomplished thus far.” Hannah is excited about attending law school and appreciative of the Jamie L. Shores scholarship: “I am beyond blessed to be receiving an award from a group of attorneys that I admire and hope to be a part of one day.”
Alabama Law Foundation Football Challenge Meets Goal of Helping Funding Shortages
In November, the Alabama Law Foundation Football Challenge tackled the problem of funding shortages with an innovative fund raiser. The foundation set up a unique website, www.alffootballchallange.com, to create two teams of four members each from the legal profession, the Orange and Blue Team and the Crimson and White Team, to compete against each other for donating to the foundation and showing pride in their team. The challenge issued was as follows: The team that dropped the ball and had the least amount of donations at the end of the competition would suffer the penalty of incorporating the school colors of the other team into their formal attire at the Alabama Law Foundation annual Fellows dinner in January. Joe Fawal, Phillip McCallum, Tony McClain and Tom Oliver were played on the Orange and Blue team while Wade Baxley, Rich Raleigh, Cooper Shattuck and Tommy Wells played on the Crimson and White team.
It was a close game all the way through, but the Crimson and White Team performed its own Kick Six. The Alabama Lawyers ran past the Auburn Lawyers at the last second to secure victory and win $11,320 to $10,370. Counting a contribution that came in after the deadline, the total raised was $22,690. Good sportsmanship carried the day (Night!) and for the Fellows dinner, two members of the losing Orange and Blue Team wore houndstooth bowties, two wore crimson and white bowties, and Joe Fawal was a class act in red socks. Tracy Daniel awarded trophies to the winners and runners up. Alabama football fans come through again!