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Rule 19-409. Interest on funds

(a) Generally. Any interest paid on funds deposited in an attorney trust account, after deducting service charges and fees of the financial institution, shall be credited and belong to the client or third person whose funds are on deposit during the period the interest is earned, except to the extent that interest is paid to the Maryland Legal Services Corporation Fund as authorized by law. The attorney or law firm shall have no right or claim to the interest.

Cross reference: See Rule 19-411 (b)(1)(D) providing that certain fees may not be deducted from interest that otherwise would be payable to the Maryland Legal Services Corporation Fund.

(b) Duty to Report IOLTA Participation.

(1) Required as a Condition of Practice. As a condition precedent to the practice of law, each attorney admitted to practice in Maryland shall report annually in accordance with this Rule information concerning all IOLTA accounts, including name, address, location, and account number, on a form approved by the Court of Appeals.

(2) Oversight of the Reporting Process. The Court of Appeals shall designate an employee of the Administrative Office of the Courts to oversee the reporting process set forth in this Rule.

(3) Mailing by the Administrative Office of the Courts. On or before January 10 of each year, the Administrative Office of the Courts shall mail an IOLTA Compliance Report form to each attorney on the list maintained by the Client Protection Fund of the Bar of Maryland. The addresses on that list shall be used for all notices and correspondence pertaining to the reports.

(4) Due Date. IOLTA Compliance Reports for each year shall be filed with the Administrative Office of the Courts on or before February 15 of that year.

(5) Enforcement.

(A) Notice of Default. As soon as practicable after May 1 of each year, the Administrative Office of the Courts shall notify each defaulting attorney of the attorney's failure to file a report. The notice shall (i) state that the attorney has not filed the IOLTA Compliance Report for that year, (ii) state that continued failure to file the Report may result in the entry of an order by the Court of Appeals prohibiting the attorney from practicing law in the State, and (iii) be sent by first-class mail. The mailing of the notice of default shall constitute service.

(B) Additional Discretionary Notice of Default. In addition to the mailed notice, the Administrative Office of the Courts may give additional notice to defaulting attorneys by any of the means enumerated in Rule 19-606 (c).

(C) List of Defaulting Attorneys. As soon as practicable after July 1 of each year but no later than August 1, the Administrative Office of the Courts shall prepare, certify, and file with the Court of Appeals a list that includes the name and address of each attorney engaged in the practice of law who has failed to file the IOLTA Compliance Report for that year.

(D) Certification of Default; Order of Decertification. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall submit with the list a proposed Decertification Order stating the names and addresses of those attorneys who have failed to file their IOLTA Compliance Report. At the request of the Court of Appeals, the Administrative Office of the Courts also shall furnish additional information from its records or give further notice to the defaulting attorneys. If satisfied that the Administrative Office of the Courts has given the required notice to each attorney named on the proposed Decertification Order, the Court of Appeals shall enter a Decertification Order prohibiting each of them from practicing law in the State.

(E) Mailing of Decertification Order. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall mail by first-class mail a copy of the Decertification Order to each attorney named in the Order. The mailing of the copy of the Decertification Order shall constitute service.

(F) Recertification; Restoration to Good Standing. If an attorney thereafter files the outstanding IOLTA Compliance Report, the Administrative Office of the Courts shall request the Court of Appeals to enter an order that recertifies the attorney and restores the attorney to good standing. Upon entry of that order, the Administrative Office of the Courts promptly shall furnish confirmation to the attorney. After an attorney is recertified, the fact that the attorney had been decertified need not be disclosed by the attorney in response to a request for information as to whether the attorney has been the subject of a disciplinary or remedial proceeding.

(G) Duty of Clerk of Court of Appeals. Upon entry of each Decertification Order and each order that recertifies an attorney and restores the attorney to good standing entered pursuant to this Rule, the Clerk of the Court of Appeals shall comply with Rule 19-761.

(H) Certain Information Furnished to the Maryland Legal Services Corporation. The Administrative Office of the Courts promptly shall submit to the Maryland Legal Services Corporation the data from electronically submitted IOLTA Compliance Reports and, upon request, shall forward the paper Compliance Reports.

(I) Confidentiality. Except as provided in subsection (b)(5)(H) of this Rule, IOLTA Compliance Reports, whether in paper or electronic form, are confidential and are not subject to inspection or disclosure under Code, General Provisions Article, § 4-301. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall not release the Reports to any person or agency, except as provided in this Rule or upon order of the Court of Appeals. Nonidentifying information and data contained in an attorney's IOLTA Compliance Report are not confidential.

Cross reference: See Code, Business Occupations and Professions Article, § 10-303.