IOTA Distributions (and Trial Run)Organizations We Fund Legal Aid Programs Donate Now What We Do
FFLA is authorized by the Florida Supreme Court to administer the Interest on Trust Accounts Program. Under IOTA, client trust deposits deemed by the attorney or law firm to be too small an amount, or expected to be held for too short a time to make investment for an individual client economically practical, are pooled into an interest- or dividend-bearing financial institution account. Those funds are then distributed by FFLA to qualified legal aid grantees. In 2022, the rule was amended, and FFLA began distributions under the new rule in December of 2022. Read the IOTA Rule.
The purpose of the IOTA Trial Run Grant Program was to refine the implementation work plan to distribute IOTA funds collected pursuant to Rule 5-1.1(g), Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. A matrix was developed which reflects a starting point and approach for distributing IOTA collections. These grants were awarded one time on a trial basis to test the effectiveness of the work plan and leave room for improvement if needed.
The amended rule requires FFLA to consider data from appropriate governmental agencies and grantees before developing a fair distribution plan regarding IOTA collections. Qualified grantees will receive pro rata distribution of available IOTA funds based on 1) a regional basis 2) both poverty and working poor populations; 3) current grantee FTE attorney capacity weighted by program size to reflect regional need and/or dependence on FFLA funding and to promote overall sustainability of the delivery model (existing network) with special attention to percentage of poverty and working poor population in region/service area and availability of other resources. This distribution formula is subject to change on a periodic basis to reflect updates in available data and information.
$1,250,000 was allocated by the FFLA board for the IOTA Trial Run grants. Grant amounts varied based on 1) a regional basis; 2) both poverty and working poor populations; 3) on current grantee capacity weighted by size to reflect need and/or dependence on Foundation funding and to promote overall sustainability of the existing network. $230,000 was deducted from the aggregate amount available to award three programs whose applications for CED grant extensions were more appropriately classified as IOTA distributions.
The most consistent indicator of capacity is the number of currently employed lawyers who provide or facilitate direct legal services to an organization’s clients. A weighting system was developed on a scale of 0.3 to 0.8.
Grantees received initial IOTA distributions per the amended rule in December 2022. Grantees were given one calendar year from the date of their receipt of funds to use such funds in accordance with the amended rule. No later than 6 months after the fiscal year, FFLA must distribute to 1 or more qualified grantee organizations all IOTA funds collected that fiscal year except for direct expenses required to administer the IOTA funds, funds required to fund the Loan Repayment Assistance Program, and an additional reserve amount if requested by FFLA and approved by the court. FFLA’s fiscal years run July 1 – June 30.
Trial Run grants were awarded one time in August 2022.
A “qualified legal services provider” is a member of The Florida Bar or other individual authorized by the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar or other law to provide qualified legal services. A “qualified grantee organization” is a charitable or other nonprofit organization that facilitates or directly provides qualified legal services by qualified legal services providers and that has experience in successfully doing so. “Qualified legal services” are free legal services provided directly to low-income clients for their civil legal needs in Florida, and includes post-conviction representation, programs that assist low-income clients in navigating legal processes, and the publication of legal forms or other legal resources for use by pro se litigants.
All existing grantees were considered initially, but some were excluded given the amended rule’s definition of “Qualified Grantee Organization.” Grantees excluded from the trial run are not automatically excluded from future funding awarded by FFLA, including IOTA distributions.
IOTA collections are the source of funds for IOTA distributions, minus direct expenses required to administer the IOTA program (costs directly incurred by FFLA in performing the obligations imposed by the rule; direct expenses required to administer the IOTA funds must not exceed 15% of collected IOTA funds in any fiscal year without the court’s prior approval.)
This grant is funded by FFLA on an annual basis in accordance with FFLA’s grant allocation for the corresponding year which may be culled from all available sources including existing reserves, restricted donations, Endowment contributions, unspent or returned funds, past investment earnings and other funds which may become available. (The trial run did not utilize IOTA funds.)