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 Announces $1,379,600 in Grants to Organizations Assisting Low-Income Wisconsinites with Critical Civil Legal Needs

Madison. October 25, 2019 – The Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, Inc. (WisTAF) announces direct legal services grant awards totaling $1,379,600 to fifteen agencies providing civil legal aid for Wisconsin’s poor and underserved in 2020.

2020 direct legal services grant recipients:

  • ABC for Health, Inc., $46,800
  • AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW), $25,000
  • Center Against Sexual & Domestic Abuse, Inc. (CASDA), $18,500
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdioceses of Milwaukee, Inc., $20,000
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse, Inc., $15,000
  • Centro Legal por Derechos Humanos, $29,600
  • Community Justice, Inc., $16,200
  • Disability Rights Wisconsin, $118,400
  • Kids Matter, Inc., $35,000
  • Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc., $717,200
  • Legal Aid Society of Door County, Inc., $11,000
  • Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, $107,700
  • LOTUS Legal Clinic, Inc., $16,200
  • Portage County Legal Aid Society, $18,000
  • Wisconsin Judicare, Inc., $185,000

Direct legal services grant program funding is the product of multiple revenue sources administered by WisTAF, as mandated by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Sources of funds currently include:

Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program:  The IOLTA program allows attorneys to pool short-term or nominal deposits made on behalf of clients or third parties into one account. The interest generated by these accounts is remitted to WisTAF for use in grantmaking. The commitment of financial institutions to the communities they serve is reflected in their participation in the IOLTA program. In addition to paying competitive interest rates on lawyers’ trust accounts, three-quarters of Wisconsin’s 200 IOLTA participating financial institutions have chosen to waive fees on IOLTA accounts. To date, IOLTA funding has resulted in over $31 million in grant awards for dozens of Wisconsin’s civil legal service providers.

Public Interest Legal Services Fund (PILSF):  In 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court established the Public Interest Legal Services Fund (PILSF), citing its necessity in maintaining “the integrity and efficiency of the judicial system within this state” and “the heightened obligations of lawyers, both to our justice system and to assist this Court with the effective administration of justice.” The Fund addresses the state’s growing need for civil legal services and plays a critical role in supplementing erratic IOLTA funding with a more stable revenue source. PILSF funds are directly attributable to Wisconsin’s attorneys and judges, and are distributed throughout Wisconsin’s judicial districts. Since its inception, PILSF funds have helped the state’s most vulnerable residents in all Wisconsin counties gain the legal outcomes needed to realize long-term health, stability and self-sufficiency.

Pro hac vice fee income:  In 2014, the Wisconsin Supreme Court amended the “pro hac vice” rule – increasing the fee paid by nonresident lawyers to participate in a particular action (with an active member of the State Bar of Wisconsin). The Court directed that a portion of the fee increase be allocated to WisTAF to help support the provision of civil legal services to low-income and indigent persons.

Cy pres funds:  Cy pres is a legal doctrine which commonly refers to residual funds left over from a class action lawsuit, but can also refer to funds from restitution, settlements, or penalties. Per Wis. Stat. section 803.08(10), not less than 50 percent of any residual funds from class actions filed in Wisconsin state court shall be disbursed to WisTAF to support direct delivery of legal services to persons of limited means in non-criminal matters. Occasionally, WisTAF receives settlement agreement residual funds to use in making grants supporting civil legal services.

About WisTAF: Created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1986, the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, Inc. 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 solve their legal needs.

WisTAF has posted materials for the 2021 Direct Legal Services and Pandemic Response Grant Application
WisTAF has posted materials for the 2019-20 DVSA Annual Report
WisTAF welcomes Bank of Sun Prairie as “Prime Partner” in supporting justice for all
Now Available: WisTAF’s 2020-21 Domestic Violence & Sexual Abuse Legal Services State Appropriation Grant Application Materials
WisTAF Invests in Services and Projects to Help People Resolve Their Legal Problems



As a Prime Partner since 2011, Farmers State 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. Farmers State Bank's participation reflects an admirable commitment to justice for all in Wisconsin.

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Email: service@wistaf.org

Board & Staff
Board of Directors
Rebecca Murray, Executive Director
Tehmina Islam, IOLTA Program/Office Manager
Carlos Arenas, Program Manager
Benson Gardner, Communications and Development Manager

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