The law foundations first came into existence in 1968 when the first law foundation was established in New South Wales, Australia. Lawyers visiting New South Wales from British Columbia at that time learned about how the interest on lawyers’ trust accounts was being used for the public good, and upon their return to Canada, recommended to the B.C. government that a similar foundation be formed. The Law Foundation of British Columbia, the first in Canada, was established in April 1969. From 1971 to 1986, similar law foundations were formed across Canada, and now exist in every province and territory.
There are also similar foundations across the United States, where they are called “IOLTA” (for “interest on lawyers’ trust accounts”) programs.
Law Foundations are not-for-profit and receive and distribute the interest on funds held in lawyers’ mixed trust accounts maintained in financial institutions to fund projects and programs according to their mandates that benefit the public in legal education, legal research, legal aid, law reform, and law libraries.