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New York State Bar Association Objects to Transfer of $55 Million Set Aside To Pay for Civil Legal Services For Low-Income New Yorkers

New York State Bar Association Objects to Transfer of $55 Million Set Aside To Pay for Civil Legal Services For Low-Income New Yorkers

4.17.2024

By Susan DeSantis

Richard Lewis, president of the New York State Bar Association, issued the following statement about a proposal in the state budget agreement that takes money away from low-income New Yorkers who need civil legal services:

“The New York State Bar Association strenuously objects to the transfer of $55 million from the IOLA Fund to pay for other state programs. When Gov. Kathy Hochul originally proposed in her executive budget to remove $100 million from the IOLA Fund and place it in the state’s general fund, we and many other legal advocates protested. When the governor withdrew the proposal, we commended her. We are now distressed that this ill-conceived plan has been resurrected, and strongly urge the governor and Legislature to reconsider.

“The IOLA Fund supports 81 non-profit legal services organizations that help New Yorkers in their time of greatest need. The law simply does not allow the state to improperly divert this money — which comes from escrow on attorney accounts and not from the taxpayers – to other state programs. The New York State Bar Association supports the IOLA Board of Trustees in its unanimous opposition to this use of money that was set aside by law to aid low-income New Yorkers.”

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