IOLTA Funds Are Helping Save The Lives of Nevada’s Most Vulnerable

November 23, 2022

With the median household income in Nevada hovering around $60,000, many families would struggle to pay for ongoing legal assistance on top of basic household expenses. Thankfully, according to the Nevada Bar Foundation, there is help for approximately 30,000 Nevada households who seek this no-fee assistance annually.

As a result of Nevada Supreme Court Rule 217, the interest paid by financial institutions on Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts, known as IOLTA funds, directly supports legal assistance programs for those unable to pay for legal services.

The Nevada Bar Foundation has distributed millions of dollars in direct grants to qualified organizations across the State, including the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. Often, clients are in desperate situations, as happened to a woman we will identify as "Silvia." The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada provided details about her case to illustrate how IOLTA funds assist Nevadans.

Physically and verbally abused by her husband, Silvia faced a life-threatening crisis. Her controlling husband not only limited access to financial resources but their three-year-old son. Violent outbursts were common. Silvia had even been locked in a closet while her husband screamed he wished her dead. After an argument one particular day, Silvia's husband called an Uber to take Silvia to a hotel on The Strip so she could calm down after one of his outbursts. Silvia took the offer. After leaving, Silvia learned her husband canceled all her credit cards, locked her out of the house, and left her without access to financial resources. 

A close friend helped Silvia file a Temporary Protection Order (TPO). Silvia contacted the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, and an attorney represented her at the hearing. However, before Silvia's TPO filing, her husband had filed his TPO against Silvia, claiming she had broken his hand. The husband's TPO filing had provided him with temporary custody of their child and possession of the residence. Silvia's Legal Aid Center attorney utilized video and voice recordings that helped prove to a judge that the husband was the perpetrator of domestic violence and that his claims were not credible. 

A judge dissolved the husband's protection order and granted a one-year extension of Silvia's TPO. She was awarded temporary custody of the child with no visitation from the father and a police escort to pick up the child. 

Silvia's outcome likely would have been much different without the ability to have an attorney represent her. In hundreds of cases around the State each year, legal assistance made possible through IOLTA funding has an impactful and sometimes life-saving effect.

Because every citizen deserves the ability to pursue justice, Bank of Nevada is proud to be the leader in the amount of IOLTA funding provided to the Nevada Bar Foundation. The vast majority of this funding is awarded to organizations that provide direct, legally-related services to the poor, victims of domestic violence, senior citizens and children protected by or in need of protection by the juvenile court. 

In 2018, Bank of Nevada was the first financial institution who voluntarily increased the Annual Percentage Yield (APY) it paid on IOLTA funds to increase support for legal assistance programs that help people like Sylvia. Again in 2022, Bank of Nevada committed to increasing the Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on IOLTA funds as new IOLTA deposit milestones are reached. 

If you'd like to speak with a member of Bank of Nevada's Juris banking team, please connect with our juris banking expert Sarah Guindy.