BAR FOUNDATION
PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

 

The Good We Do
Michael R. McElroy, Esq.
President of the Rhode Island Bar Foundation 

We should all be proud of the good work done by Foundation’s IOLTA grantees and the volunteer lawyers who selflessly dedicate their time and talents to assisting the less fortunate.

Have you ever wondered what happens with the interest that is earned on your IOLTA account?  The Rhode Island Bar Foundation administers the IOLTA program.  Eligible non-profit grantees who comply with the Foundation’s mission of supporting access to legal services for the disadvantaged use their IOLTA grants in a variety of ways.  I hope to use my President’s Messages to spotlight some of the good things that our grantees are doing every day.

One IOLTA grantee is the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless Legal Clinic.

Through the Homeless Clinic, thousands of people have received free legal help.  Lawyers who volunteer their time through our Bar Association host legal clinics at shelters and meal sites throughout the state.  Legal barriers to housing can often be resolved with legal support.

The Homeless Clinic has been able to help people get their lives back and feel like they are strong members of our community.  Dee Dee Williams, Deputy Director of the Coalition, provided two success stories to me.

John (not his real name) came to the Amos House Clinic.  John wanted the Clinic to find out if he had outstanding fines.  John did not have a job and did not want to get arrested for unpaid fines.  John also could not get a job due to a charge on his record from more than 20 years ago.  Clinic attorney Bob Johnson checked into the charge, helped him to fill out the necessary forms, prepared him for his court appearance, and supported him throughout the legal process.  John is now working full time for Amazon and has been able to secure his own apartment.

James (not his real name) also came to the Amos House Clinic.  James was homeless and sleeping in a condemned house.  James was asked to not go back to the house by the City and local police.  The City inspector continued to see James at the property, so the City brought him to court.  Clinic attorney Steve Miller went with James to court and recommended resources to help James.  Steve eventually discovered that the house actually belonged to James because his mother had left it to him in her will.  James was then connected to a probate attorney who helped James to sell the house.  The probate attorney also created a trust fund for James with the money from the house so James would never be homeless again.  James was then able to get into affordable housing for seniors.  James is now living in a fully furnished, beautiful apartment.

In future President’s Messages, I will spotlight the good work being done by other IOLTA grantees, including the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Dorcas International Institute, The Center for Justice, and the RI Bar Association Pro Bono Bono Programs.

We should all be proud of the good work done by Foundation’s IOLTA grantees and the volunteer lawyers who selflessly dedicate their time and talents to assisting the less fortunate.