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Post on April 7th, 2017

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