Section 1. Authority and Purpose.
The Lawyer Trust Account Committee (Committee) was created by the North Dakota Bar Foundation pursuant to the North Dakota Supreme Court Administrative Rule 24 to receive and disburse funds raised from the interest generated on lawyers' pooled trust accounts. Lawyers' pooled trust accounts hold client funds that are so small in amount or held for such a brief period that it is not feasible for the funds to economically benefit the individual client. Previously, attorneys' pooled trust accounts earned no interest. In 1987, the state of North Dakota joined many other states in creating effective October 1, 1987, an interest on lawyers' trust account program (IOLTA) that will benefit law related charitable and educational interests in our state.
The Committee will use the interest earned on IOLTA accounts as directed by the Supreme Court of North Dakota. The Supreme Court has ordered that the funds are to be used:
(1) for the support of civil legal services to the poor;
(2) for public education relating to the courts and legal matters; and
(3) for the improvement of the administration of justice.
The Court further states in Section 3(c) of Administrative Rule 24 that "(g)rant applications for programs for the support of civil legal services to the poor shall be given a high priority."
The Lawyer Trust Account Committee, through the grant process, will strive to improve the delivery of legal services to the poor, promote the development of law-related education for the public, and develop programs to enhance the administration of justice. The Committee will not only support traditional approaches, but will encourage projects that show innovative ways to address needs in the areas of legal services to the poor, law-related education, and the administration of justice throughout the state of North Dakota.
The Lawyer Trust Account Committee philosophy recognizes that North Dakota IOLTA funds will be a significant source of support for funding programs within the mandate of Supreme Court Administrative Rule 24.
The Committee recognizes that the procedures and relative priorities for the grant program may change in the future as the Committee gains experience, as revenues grow, and as needs and resources change.
The Committee intends, after operating costs, to reserve up to 10% of IOLTA funds received for a reserve for contingencies. This reserve fund may not exceed three years' anticipated income. The amount of the reserve fund is to be set by the Committee, with the approval of the Board of Directors of the North Dakota Bar Foundation.
Section 2. Grant Criteria.
The Committee desires to make the best use of IOLTA funds and obtain maximum effect from each grant. The following guidelines, with exceptions where necessary, will be used to assist in the grant decision-making process:
(a) The Committee favors funding groups or organizations (as opposed to individuals).
(b) The Committee encourages challenge grants, or other types of fund-matching arrangements, to leverage IOLTA money.
(c) Grant applicants should, if possible, have sources of income in addition to the IOLTA funds requested. Generally, the Committee does not intend to be the primary source of financial support for a sustained period of time and the applicant should demonstrate an ability to function eventually without the assistance of the Committee.
(d) Greater weight will be given to applicants with a prior history of service reflecting clear ability to deliver quality services successfully.
(e) Greater weight will be given to applicants that work to develop cooperative efforts between grantees in a given service area.
(f) The Committee prefers to fund applicants that have community support.
(g) The Committee will fund applicants to achieve broad geographic and demographic distribution of IOLTA funds throughout the state.
(h) The Committee prefers to avoid replacing other funding sources. The Committee also prefers neither to fund agencies primarily funded by state appropriations, nor will funding be granted to state agencies to perform statutory duties.
(i) In reviewing grants for renewal, greater weight will be given to previous recipients that have successfully utilized IOLTA funds.
(j) All grant recipients are expected to propose criteria by which their projects will be reviewed at least annually and to assist the Committee in conducting periodic evaluations.
(k) The Committee is interested in using its limited funds as seed money to establish new programs which contribute to the increased availability of legal services to indigents in all parts of the state or will provide increased education about the rights and responsibilities of all citizens under our legal system.
(l) The Committee will not fund political campaigns, lobbying or legislative advocacy nor will it fund programs to provide for criminal indigent defense, religious organizations, or constitutionally mandated legal services.
Section 3. Eligible Applicants.
The Committee will make funding grants primarily upon the basis of written applications.Applications should be directed to the:
Lawyer Trust Account Committee
North Dakota Bar Foundation
P.O. Box 2136
Bismarck, ND 58502-2136
The Committee may request applicants to supplement an application, interview an applicant, and make on site visits and inspections.
The Committee may also, at its discretion, request applications from potential providers of services in priority funding areas, if no grant applications have been received.
All grants will be made pursuant to a written contract between the grant recipient and the Committee. The Committee will require a final report and may require periodic written reports as to the use of the funds by each grant recipient.
Each grant applicant must comply with the following:
(a) Qualify as an exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Code, as now defined (or the corresponding provision of any future amendments thereto), or otherwise demonstrate the charitable purposes of the applicant organization and project.
(b) Demonstrate fiscal responsibility and integrity.
(c) Provide the Committee with a program audit prepared within the previous two years, or if the program does not have an audit, explain the absence of one.
(d) Submit a grant application in writing on forms provided by the Committee or in a manner prescribed by the Committee.
(e) Submit a grant request that is consistent with the Committee Statement of Purpose.
(f) Agree to follow any other requirements set by the Committee.
(g) Consent that its financial records are open to review upon request of the Committee both during the grant application review process and thereafter if a grant is awarded.
(h) Account for the grant funds separately in its financial reporting system and furnish the Committee with an accounting of grant fund expenditures within 90 days after conclusion of the grant period. The Committee may require an independent audit report of grant fund expenditures to be furnished by the grant applicant.
(i) Agree to report to the Committee on progress and results if IOLTA funding is received.
(j) Agree that its application, upon receipt by the Committee becomes the property of the Committee. The Committee reserves the right to use any ideas presented, whether or not the application is accepted for funding. All applications, once received by the Committee, are open to public inspection and comment.
(k) Agree to carry out the program for which funds are requested. Funds not expended for the purposes set out in the application must be reported to the Committee at the end of the grant period, and must be returned to the Committee unless consent to hold and expend pursuant to a supplemental application is received and approved by the Committee.
Section 4. Grant Funds and Deadlines.
The Committee contemplates funding to be on a calendar year basis. All grant applications must be submitted to the Committee by September 15 of each year for grants effective on January 1 of the year following.
Section 5. Rejection of Grant Applications.
The Committee reserves the right to reject any or all grant applications which do not, in its opinion, meet the purposes of this program.
Section 6. Grantee Costs.
Neither the North Dakota Supreme Court, the North Dakota Bar Foundation, nor the Committee will be liable for any expenses incurred by any prospective grantee prior to the issuance of the grant.
Section 7. Inquiry.
Grant application procedures and forms may be obtained from and questions should be directed to:
Lawyer Trust Account Committee
P.O. Box 2136
Bismarck, ND 58502-2136
Out-of-State (701) 255-1404
Section 8. Copies of Applications, Signature.
Grant applications may be submitted electronically, and must be authenticated. These copies should be signed by an official who has authority to bind the organization to the proposed obligations. Applications must state that they are valid for a minimum period of sixty (60) days from the day of submission.
Section 9. Prime Grantee Responsibility.
A selected grantee will be required to assume responsibility for all services offered in its application. The selected grantee will be the sole point of contact with regard to contractual matters, including payment of any and all charges resulting from the grant.
Section 10. Access to Books and Records.
The Committee, or any of its duly authorized representatives, shall have access for purposes of audit and examination to any books, documents, papers and records of the grantee.
Section 11. Contract Terms.
The grant application must state when the grantee will start the project, which should be within sixty (60) days of effective date of the award. If during the performance of the project the grantee deviates from the grant, the grant may, at the discretion of the Committee, be terminated at any time and unexpended grant funds must be returned to the Committee. If a dispute arises in the performance of the grant which cannot be settled between the parties, the dispute shall be submitted to arbitration pursuant to Chapter 32-29.3 of the North Dakota Century Code.
Section 12. Project Completion Date.
The completion date of the project must be specified in the application. If the project will continue for more than one year, the applicant should specify the budget and evaluation cycle on a twelve-month basis.
Section 13. Application Grant Requests.
Applicants who submit proposals in the initial funding cycle will not be precluded from applying in later funding cycles if need exceeds the amount of the initial award.
Dated this June 3, 2009.
[Adopted May 25, 1988; amended effective July 1, 2009.]