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Caroline Fan on October 31, 2008 - 4:35pm
A number of states are increasing funding for legal services, often a critical ally for low-wage workers seeking to enforce their rights.
A number of states have also increased funding from so-called IOLTA accounts -- lawyers' accounts whose interest is used to fund low-income legal services -- by requiring that banks provide competitive interest rates. Florida --the first state back in 1981 to use interest on lawyer accounts to fund legal services -- was also the first state in 2004 to require banks to offer competitive interest rates on those accounts, increasing revenue from that source from $22.7 million in fiscal year 2004-05 up to $67.3 million by the following year. New York and other states have since joined Florida with similar programs.
Since the federal Legal Services Corporation bars funding for many immigrant workers, some states are working to provide funding for immigrant workers denied fair treatment. One model is New York's proposed A2289 in 2007, which would provide legal services for immigration and immigrant worker matters excluded from federally-funded legal services.
- New York Governor's Office, New State Regulations to Increase Funding for Civil Legal Assistance to Eligible Poor New Yorkers
- ABA Journal Report, Expressing Their Interest: Rise in Rates Swells IOLTA, and Legal Services Gain
- Brennan Center - Access to Justice: Opening the Courtroom Door