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.

Funding Administration

WisTAF originated with the creation a new type of funding mechanism, the state's Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. The legacy of that moment is our expertise in administration of fund sources as well as civil legal aid grant programs. 

Current fund sources

The Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program and the Public Interest Legal Services Fund (PILSF) program were established by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to help make Wisconsin’s justice system accessible to all, regardless of income. The IOLTA program is supported by participating financial institutions across the state, while all practicing Wisconsin attorneys and judges support the PILSF program with a contribution paid at the same time as their annual license fees. The court established another, smaller funding stream for civil legal aid by redirecting a portion of the admission fees paid by nonresident lawyers to participate in particular actions in Wisconsin (known as pro hac vice).

Wisconsin’s lawmakers and governor also invest budget resources for civil legal aid grants administered by WisTAF. Beginning in 2015, each State of Wisconsin budget has allocated $500,000 per year to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families for a WisTAF-administered grant program supporting Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Legal Services (DVSA). In 2022, WisTAF was entrusted with one-time federal funds related to COVID-19 relief and Afghan immigration in Wisconsin. Grants drawing on these resources currently support related legal assistance throughout Wisconsin.

A another major source currently in operation is a 2014 U.S. Justice Department settlement with Bank of America which allocated a finite amount of funds for forclosure prevention and community redevelopment legal assistance (FP/CRLA).

Additional support comes from private donations as well as other settlements, class actions, and the like, including residual funds (known as cy pres).

June 14, 2023
WisTAF Board Meeting
June 23, 2023
Racial Justice Workgroup meeting
August 18, 2023
Racial Justice Workgroup meeting
August 23, 2023
Finance Committee Meeting
September 12, 2023
Grants & Evaluation Committee Meeting
September 27, 2023
Executive Committee Teleconference
September 29, 2023
Racial Justice Workgroup meeting
October 11, 2023
WisTAF Board Meeting
November 17, 2023
Racial Justice Workgroup meeting
Does FDIC protect IOLTA funds?
WisTAF is accepting applications for domestic violence/sexual abuse civil legal services funding through March 17th
WisTAF announces $7.4 million in COVID-related grant awards
WisTAF disburses legal assistance for Afghan evacuees
WisTAF awards $450,000 in Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Legal Assistance Grants



One of our newest Prime Partners, Farmers & Merchants Bank (Berlin) 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 & Merchants Bank's participation reflects an admirable commitment to justice for all in Wisconsin.

Contact us
4600 American Parkway, Suite 104, Madison, WI 53718
Phone: 608.257.6845 or 877.749.5045 (toll-free)
Email: service@wistaf.org

Board & Staff
Board of Directors
Rebecca Murray, Executive Director
Tehmina Islam, Assistant Executive Director
Benson Gardner, Communications and Development Manager
Jeff Brown, Grants Program Manager

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