The Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation works with civil legal aid organizations in Wisconsin to increase access to justice. We oversee funds and invest in services and projects to help people resolve legal problems.

WisTAF recognizes Peoples State Bank for 10 years of civil legal aid support

COVID-19 heightens importance of “Prime Partner” funding for people in Wisconsin


CONTACT: Benson Gardner, Communications and Development Manager, 608.620.0711, bgardner@wistaf.org

MADISON — The Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation (WisTAF) recognized Peoples State Bank for its longstanding support of civil legal aid. Desperately needed during the pandemic, civil legal aid ensures people can access legal representation, advice, and information when they face life-altering challenges. The Wisconsin Supreme Court established WisTAF to help meet this need by administering the state’s Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. 

Peoples State Bank has volunteered as a “Prime Partner” in the IOLTA program for the entire duration of the Prime Partner program, which hit the 10-year mark Jan. 1.

“Long before COVID-19 increased so many people’s needs related to employment, safety, health, and housing, a select group of banks in Wisconsin were addressing these issues by supporting civil legal aid,” said April Barker, president of the WisTAF Board of Directors. “These Prime Partners help people remove barriers to gainful employment, secure their safety from abusers, access unemployment and veterans’ coverage—and deal with other life-altering challenges. I hope many more partners will join us in funding legal help for people in need.”

Civil law covers a myriad of situations with direct impacts on people’s fundamental needs. In civil cases, unlike criminal court, there is no constitutional guarantee of an attorney. Without one, people often struggle to navigate the complexities of the legal system, making it hard to achieve stability or experience justice.

To solve this issue, nonprofit law firms and other partners offer civil legal aid: online information, attorney advice, and legal representation for people who couldn’t afford to pay for a lawyer on their own. Funding for this piece of the justice system has been accomplished through a variety of private and public efforts.

The IOLTA program uses a collaborative arrangement between financial institutions and lawyers to fill a portion of the need. The program revolves around the trust accounts attorneys use to hold funds for clients. When client funds are not large enough or would not remain in trust long enough to generate interest for the client, attorneys pool the funds into a single, larger IOLTA account with greater interest potential. Banks remit interest earnings to WisTAF for use administering grants that offer civil legal aid in every part of Wisconsin.

Prime Partners are banks which go above and beyond the IOLTA program’s threshold participation requirements, offering higher levels of interest on IOLTA accounts as a form of community support.

"Peoples State Bank has partnered with WisTAF for so long because we’re a locally owned, community bank,” said Aphton Check, the bank’s marketing manager. “When everyone in your community has access to the justice system, they’re going to be financially healthier in the long run, which is good for all us in southwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa."

People at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible to receive IOLTA-funded services.

Peoples State Bank’s 20 branches are clustered close to the Mississippi River with 18 in Southwest Wisconsin, fanning out to Viroqua in the north and Potosi in the South, along with two locations in Northeast Iowa (Guttenberg and Harpers Ferry).

WisTAF is a nonprofit organization that works with civil legal aid organizations in the state to increase access to justice. The foundation oversees funds and invests in services and projects to help people resolve legal problems. More information about the Prime Partner program can be found on the WisTAF website, wistaf.org.


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Our recent Prime Partner, West Pointe Bank goes above and beyond IOLTA participation requirements by paying additional interest on its clients' IOLTA accounts — helping to expand access to civil legal services in Wisconsin. West Pointe Bank's participation reflects an admirable commitment to justice for all in Wisconsin.

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Rebecca Murray, Executive Director
Tehmina Islam, IOLTA Program/Office Manager
Carlos Arenas, Program Manager
Benson Gardner, Communications and Development Manager

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