8: Don't Bank on Your Bank

Assume that your bank will make mistakes either in opening this account or in transactions on it. Though they aren't supposed to charge fees, or to debit your clients' funds to cover account expenses, these "approved financial institutions" often do. Since you'll be held accountable for your bank's mistakes, it's your job to catch them.

Even if it's the bank's fault, most jurisdictions require the institution to report you for any resulting overdraft. This will prompt an ethics investigation and a likely audit of all transactions on your account. If you want to avoid trust account problems, don't trust your bank.

If you don't want Bar Counsel reading your account statements, you must do it yourself. Even if you don't pay attention to your own checking account, the funds you hold in trust belong to others. As a fiduciary, you are ethically required to keep close tabs on other people's money. So shoving your account statements into a drawer won't suffice.

When reading your statements, watch out for fees that your bank may have erroneously deducted. The bank shouldn't assess maintenance fees, bad check charges, check printing fees or other operating expenses against the funds held in escrow, but mistakes are quite common. If you don't catch these errors and unwittingly overdraw the account, the same bank will send an overdraft notice to Bar Counsel and trigger a further investigation.

Remember, it's your professional responsibility and your license. You cannot trust your bank with either of them.

Don't Trust Your Bank to Manage IOLTA Funds Correctly

"And why am I getting $4.98 of interest that should be going to the State?" Read on ...

Attorney Grievance defense attorney specializes in defending lawyers in disciplinary proceedings before the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission and the D.C. Bar's Board on Professional Responsibility involving professional misconduct, legal ethics, disbarment, suspensions of law licenses, petitions for disciplinary action, reprimands and sanctions for unethical conduct. If you receive a letter from Bar Counsel Lydia Lawless, Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox, or from any attorney disciplinary board in Maryland or the District of Columbia, retain experienced attorneys with expertise in lawyer discipline and breach of ethics cases to avoid sanctions for professional misconduct. We help lawyers avoid disbarment, suspension, reprimands, censure and informal admonitions by drafting responses to client grievances and ethical complaints; representing lawyers in peer reviews, evidentiary hearings, and oral arguments before the BPR and the Court of Appeals; filing petitions to reinstate an attorney's license to practice law; conducting law firm ethical compliance audits; and drafting legal ethics opinions to protect lawyers from ethics charges. In many cases, disciplinary proceedings may be dismissed, dismissed with a warning, or result in a conditional diversion agreement with Bar Counsel to rectify misconduct. Lawyers may need help in managing their law firm attorney escrow IOLTA trust account and complying with attorney trust accounting rules to avoid charges of ethical misconduct. Do not represent yourself in responding to an attorney grievance, law firm client complaint, or other allegation of ethical impropriety. Attorney grievance defense counsel may help you comply with legal ethics rules, avoid sanctions like suspension or disbarment, and avoid future attorney grievances.

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By The Lawyer's Lawyers | Kramer & Connolly and Irwin R. Kramer who are responsible for the content of this informational website.   This website is designed for lawyers faced with attorney grievances. As cases do differ, past performance does not guarantee future results.
 

NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND
OR THE BOARD ON PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE D.C. BAR