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From: Sara Gagne-Holmes [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
November 12, 2008
RE: FDIC Regulatory Comments
I am writing on behalf of Maine Equal Justice Partners (MEJP), a nonprofit civil legal aid provider in Maine, to respectfully request that the FDIC revise the published Interim Rule regarding the Transaction Account Guarantee Program of the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program by amending the proposed regulations to include Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) in the definition of covered accounts. Unless IOLTA accounts are included in the definition of “covered accounts,” civil legal aid providers, who are the recipients of the IOLTA program, will be unable to continue to provide free quality civil legal aid to American’s poorest and most vulnerable at their current levels. Maine Equal Justice Partners is one of five statewide civil legal aid providers in Maine that receives significant funding from IOLTA. For MEJP, IOLTA funding generally comprises 26% of our annual budget, without which we would have to eliminate critical services and reduce an already bare bones staff.
IOLTA accounts often hold client funds for short periods of time that exceed the $250,000 coverage limit, such as large settlements for multiple clients prior to distribution and real estate transactions. It is not a viable option for attorneys to establish multiple accounts at various financial institutions for amounts over $250,000. If IOLTA accounts are not defined as a “covered account” under the TLGP, then attorneys will place client funds in other unlimited insurance accounts, which will result in less available funding to provide access to justice for the poor.
In these difficult economic times, please do not force lawyers to abandon a program that provides much needed revenue for civil legal aid providers who serve the poor, especially when such providers are experiencing an increase in need for their services due to the increasing unemployment and uninsured rate, foreclosures and evictions. If we truly are a nation that believes in justice for all, then I respectfully request that the TLGP proposed regulations include IOLTA in the definition of covered accounts.
Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.
Sara Gagné-Holmes, Esq.
|Last Updated 11/13/2008||Regs@fdic.gov|