Community Message: Milwaukee Banks Support Civil Justice

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Two Milwaukee financial institutions have joined a group that helps Wisconsin residents access legal information, advice and representation when facing life-changing challenges.

CIBC Bank USA is located downtown, while First Federal Bank has branches in downtown, Historic Mitchell Street, and Bay View. The two banks are among the three new “major partners” of the state’s civil legal aid funding channel, the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, Inc. (WisTAF).

WisTAF has welcomed a total of three new “Core Partners” to the state’s Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. The designation means that the two Milwaukee banks as well as West Pointe Bank in Oshkosh will help ensure that the people of Wisconsin can access legal representation, advice and information when faced with challenges that change their way. life.

“This is commendable private support that helps make justice available no matter how much money you make, while saving money for taxpayers,” said April Rockstead Barker, Chair of the WisTAF Board of Directors. “Providing legal interventions, for example, to a survivor of domestic violence can prevent her problems from escalating, thus preventing the public from providing shelter. Prime Partners help everyone in Wisconsin.

While most people are familiar with the constitutional right to a lawyer in criminal cases, such a guarantee does not exist in civil matters, although civil law covers many situations that impact on people’s basic needs. When people cannot afford a lawyer, they often struggle to navigate the intricacies of the legal system, finding justice and stability elusive.

Nonprofit law firms and others are addressing the problem through civil legal aid: online information, advice, and legal representation for people who might not otherwise be able to afford a lawyer. Funding is sought by public and private efforts.

The IOLTA program is one such effort. Established by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin and administered by WisTAF, the program is a collaborative effort involving financial institutions and lawyers. The arrangement revolves around lawyers’ trust accounts, which they open at financial institutions in order to hold funds for clients. In cases where client funds are not large enough or will not stay in trust long enough to generate interest for the client, lawyers pool the funds into a single, larger IOLTA account with higher interest potential. The banks pay the interest income to WisTAF, which in turn administers the grants that provide civil legal aid in every part of Wisconsin. People at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible to receive IOLTA-funded services.

Banks join a list of 12 institutions named “Prime Partners” as they go beyond the IOLTA threshold participation requirements, by voluntarily paying higher interest on accounts as a form of community support.

“We are delighted to be recognized as a ‘preferred partner’ by the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation,” said Brant Ahrens, President, CIBC US Retail and Digital Banking. “CIBC works every day to strengthen our communities and our IOLTA accounts are an important part of our efforts, along with our affordable banking programs, our investments in community development and our contributions to organizations that make a difference in our neighborhoods. “

“The First Federal Bank of Wisconsin is delighted to be able to offer IOLTA Trust accounts as part of our continued expansion of commercial account offerings,” said Brian McManus, senior vice president of loans at First Federal. “Being part of the Prime Partner program ensures that we can support civil legal aid funding in communities in Wisconsin. “

“We are honored to be part of the Prime Partner program with WisTAF,” said Brent Heiges, vice president and chief risk officer at West Pointe Bank. “As Oshkosh’s oldest, locally owned community bank, we support nonprofits in our region focused on helping underserved people. Providing representation to those in need is essential for a highly functional justice system. Thank you for welcoming West Pointe Bank to the IOLTA Prime Partner program. We look forward to working with our partner lawyers.

CIBC Bank United States provides personal and private banking, small business banking and commercial banking solutions in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Michigan. First Federal Bank is a $ 340 million community bank headquartered in Waukesha, with branches in Bay View, Brookfield and Milwaukee. West shore of the Pointe is Oshkosh’s oldest independent full-service local bank.

Created by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, WisTAF is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that works with state civil legal aid organizations to improve access to justice. WisTAF oversees funds and invests in services to help people resolve legal issues.

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