Answering the OBLIC Hotline, there are frequent questions involving IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer Trust Account) accounts. Several practice pointers can help avoid problems with your IOLTA account:
- Follow the requirements of Rule 1.15 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.
- Never let your balance go negative.
- This may mean you will need to deposit funds sufficient to cover routine bank service fees to prevent a negative balance.
- Perform and maintain a monthly reconciliation, per Rule 1.15.
- Be aware when accepting credit card payments. See Opinion 2007-3
- Deposit flat fees appropriately. See Opinion 2016-1
- Be sure that funds are actually available for withdrawal after depositing a check from a third party before writing disbursement check from your IOLTA account. See Opinion 2016-7
- If you receive a Letter of Inquiry, contact OBLIC immediately!
A recent disciplinary decision highlighted the importance of following good trust account procedures. See Disciplinary Counsel v. Barbera, Slip Opinion No. 2017-Ohio-882.
The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation provides information and resources on IOLTA & IOTA accounts. They are also happy to take your telephone inquiries at 614-715-8560. Your OBLIC Hotline is also always available to help!
Click here to access the entire Malpractice Alert Jan-Mar 2017