NH Credit Unions to provide financial backing for free legal assistance

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MANCHESTER, NH – The name may seem a bit dry, but the program known as Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) is one of true inspiration. That’s what made the decision by Bellwether Community Credit Union to join the program this month an easy one.

Bellwether became the first credit union in New Hampshire to join the IOLTA Program’s Leadership Circle.

“It is a great cause,” said Darlene Schmidt-Brandt, Assistant Vice President at Bellwether Community Credit Union. “This program helps provide equal access to justice.”

Screenshot 2015-03-11 at 8.51.17 PMAn IOLTA account is an escrow account established by a lawyer to hold money from multiple clients. In New Hampshire, the interest from those accounts go into a fund managed by the New Hampshire Bar Foundation to support its IOLTA Grants Program, which helps provide free or low cost civil legal services to tens of thousands of the state’s most vulnerable residents.  New Hampshire was the second state in the country to adopt the program.

The recently-passed Credit Union Insurance Fund Parity Act mandating the National Credit Union Administration to extend share insurance coverage to trust accounts, including IOLTAs, opened the door for credit unions to join the IOLTA Program.  Schmidt-Brandt, who is a member of the NH Bar Foundation’s board of directors and a member of the IOLTA enhancement committee, said this was a long-awaited moment.

“We have been hoping for 25 years to get this done,” Schmidt-Brandt said.

The Leadership Circle is made up of financial institutions which pay 2% or higher on IOLTA accounts. The IOLTA Program has generated between $800,000-$2 million a year in New Hampshire since 1983 to support programs such as New Hampshire Legal Assistance, Legal Advice and Referral Center, Disabilities Right Center and NH Pro Bono Referral Program.

About Bellwether Community Credit Union

Bellwether Community Credit Union offers financial services to consumers who reside or work in New Hampshire. As a not-for-profit credit union, Bellwether focuses on returning value back to members through attractive rates and low fees; local, personal service; and services, delivery channels and processes that make members lives easier. Members can access their accounts at more than 28,000 free ATMs nationwide and approximately 6,500 CU Service Centers around the world. Bellwether Community Credit Union has branch locations in Bedford, Manchester and Nashua. Equal Housing Lender. For more information about Bellwether Community Credit Union, visit BCCU.org.

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About Carol Robidoux 6323 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!