I suspect that all the readers of this blog cheered todays story that the Bank of America has been forced to agree to a $16.5 billion settlement with DOJ for its mortgage shenanigans (NYT). (DOJ Press Release)
Some might might have cheered even more loudly if you had known that the settlement includes at least $30 million for IOLTA programs. A minimum of $200,000 is to go to each program, with the rest distributed based on poverty population. In addition, should BOA fail to lie up to its obligations under the agreement, an additional liquidated damages provision would kick in. (I understand that there was something generally similar in the recent Citi settlement.)
While this is peanuts compared to the loss of interest income to IOLTA caused by the crash triggered in part by these mortgage issues, its both a concrete and symbolic start. For IOLTA programs, its a real boost. I hope those with discretion will use it imaginatively.
At a minimum, the inclusion reflects DOJ’s emerging recognition of the relationship of community based legal aid with the enforcement of the law. What a difference having an Access to Justice Office makes.