The Board of Governors of The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division June 27 presented a $100,000 check, its second such donation in two years, to The Florida Bar Foundation at the Bar’s Annual Convention in Boca Raton.
Paige Greenlee, 2012-13 YLD president, said the decision to make the donation was easy for the division’s board.
“All year, with every budget decision we made, my budget chair Hunter Carroll and I kept the Foundation in mind; we wanted to be sure we would be able to match what the YLD had been able to do for the Foundation last year. From before I took office, that was something that was very important to both of us,” Greenlee said.
“The YLD has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with The Florida Bar Foundation, and we are so pleased to be able to help it during these difficult economic times, as the Foundation supported us and our affiliates when it was financially able to do so. That is what partners do.”
The Foundation will use the unrestricted gift to help offset grant cuts resulting from a steep decline in revenue from Florida’s Interest on Trust Accounts (IOTA) Program.
“We can’t say enough to thank the Young Lawyers Division for coming through once again with such a substantial gift at this critical time,” said 2012-13 Foundation President Maria E. Henderson. “The support we have had from the Bar sections and divisions during this prolonged slump in IOTA revenue has really made a difference to our grantees and their clients, and the YLD has been right at the forefront of that effort. The YLD through is leadership makes us confident that the future of the Foundation is in good hands.”
The Florida Bar Foundation is Florida’s only statewide funder of civil legal services for the poor, and its grants support the work of more than 30 legal aid organizations that together serve all 67 Florida counties. With IOTA generating only about $5.5 million annually due to near-zero interest rates, the Foundation expects to have to cut its legal aid funding by more than 70 percent from 2009-10 levels by 2015-16 if interest rates don’t rise. At one time IOTA revenue had supported grant funding of more than $30 million annually, and the Foundation had still been able to build a healthy reserve fund. But after several years of substantially decreased revenue, that reserve fund has been stretched thin.
Several Florida Bar sections have come forward in the last two years with large gifts to help the Foundation bridge a funding gap that is expected to persist until interest rates rise to pre-recession levels.
Other sections that have made gifts to the Foundation recently include the Trial Lawyers Section, the Family Law Section, the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section, the Criminal Law Section, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, and the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section.
YLD social media campaign a success
The Young Lawyers Division held a social media campaign in July that yielded more than $2,000 to benefit The Florida Bar Foundation.
The YLD gave $1 to the Foundation for every new like on its Facebook page and that of its Law Student Division, as well as every new follower the two organizations acquired on Twitter.
“All of the praise for this incredible feat goes to our technology chairs, Zack Zuroweste and Gordon Glover, who brainstormed the fabulous idea to have this campaign benefit the Foundation, and our newsletter chairs, Lindsay Tygart and Bert Wohn, who had the tenacity to announce the campaign their second day as newly appointed governors of our board,” said YLD President Melanie Griffin.