Our Strategy

Partnership matters. We work together with lawyers and financial institutions to get better results.
Partnership is the guiding principle in the Oregon Law Foundation’s strategy for achieving justice for all. This principle informs the way we work with financial institutions, the way fund grants, and the way we get Oregon attorneys to understand that where you bank matters.

Partnership with financial institutions

In 2005, with the help of bankers and the support of the Oregon Bankers Association the Oregon Law Foundation started the Partners in Justice program (formerly called Leadership Bank program). Through this program, the OLF partners with banks and credit unions to get great rates on IOLTA deposits.

Many states set the interest rate financial institutions pay on IOLTA deposits by what is known as a comparability rule. Although states that adopted comparability rules saw increases in IOLTA interest rates, our experience shows us that Oregon is different. The Oregon Law Foundation completed research into the effect a comparability rule would have on Oregon’s IOLTA interest rate in 2011. This research showed that over the preceding years the OLF’s partnership strategy produced better results than a comparability rule would have.

During the period of unprecedented low interest rates from the end of 2008 through 2016, the partnership strategy continued to pay off for the Oregon Law Foundation. Even when the Federal Funds Rate reached nearly zero, our partner banks continued to pay between 0.7% and 1%. As a result, Oregon maintained an IOLTA interest rate that was among the highest in the nation.

Partnership with grantees

The Oregon Law Foundation embraces partnership through many of its grant preferences. Although we will fund specific projects, the foundation prefers to fund the general operations of grantees. This allows us to treat grantees as partners with expertise in effectively and efficiently achieving justice for all. We prefer grantees who partner with clients to learn about community need and find the best way to help. Finally, we prefer to fund programs that do not duplicate existing work. We regularly help our grantees partner together to avoid unnecessary competition and reach a broader audience. Only when we work together to help those most at risk will we be able to achieve justice for all.

Partnership with lawyers

The Oregon Law Foundation’s strategy of negotiating above-market rates with banks relies on an additional partnership with lawyers. Because rates differ between banks, we are able to expand justice for all when lawyers partner with the OLF to open their IOLTA accounts at our Partners in Justice. When lawyers use our Partners in Justice, not only do we get more funding because of higher rates, but we also increase our ability to push rates even higher. Lawyers are key customers for many financial institutions. The more lawyers demand elevated IOLTA interest rates, the higher they will go. This is why we say, “Where you bank matters!”

We invite lawyers who cannot change banks to partner with us to get their banks to join our Partners in Justice and help lead the way to justice for all.