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November 21, 2011

Vermont’s Financial Institutions Work To Help Vermont’s Disadvantaged

While the country’s large banks are busy ducking brickbats from Occupy Wall Street, a number of Vermont institutions are quietly working to help the disadvantaged of our state. The Vermont Bar Foundation, a Vermont non-profit, provides financial support for legal services to Vermonters who could not otherwise afford them.  One of the programs supported in 2011 was St. Johnsbury Community Justice Center’s Legal Clinic. With the help of volunteer lawyers from the Caledonia County Bar Association, the Justice Center organizes free, monthly clinics that provide one-time legal advice to clients from Caledonia and southern Essex Counties.  It helps victims of domestic violence throughout the Northeast Kingdom. 

The Vermont Bar Foundation is able to make grants to organizations such as St. Johnsbury’s Legal Clinic because of significant interest paid on IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts) accounts by IOLTA Honor Roll financial institutions: Brattleboro Savings & Loan Association, KeyBank, Mascoma Savings Bank, New England Federal Credit Union, Passumpsic Savings Bank, The Bank of Bennington and Vermont State Employees Credit Union that pay 2% interest, and Community National Bank, Merchants Bank, People’s United Bank and TD Bank that pay at least 1.5% interest on these accounts.  In our current interest rate environment, these interest rates are exceptional and permit the Vermont Bar Foundation to continue its program during these tough economic times.

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, I encourage area residents to thank the banks and credit unions on the Vermont Bar Foundation IOLTA Honor Roll for their crucial role in keeping these needed legal services available.

James C. Gallagher
Lyndon, VT
Vermont Bar Foundation Board of  Directors

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