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Ten Commandments of Trust

1: Open Thy Trust Account

Using the "Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts," all 50 states and the District of Columbia fund client protection programs and other worthy causes. All but a few of these states require you to use this "IOLTA" account to deposit retainers for future legal work or funds you receive for the benefit of your clients or third parties.

To comply, you must visit an approved bank and ask the branch manager or other staff to open what most jurisdictions call an "Attorney Trust Account," "Attorney Escrow Account," or "Clients' Funds Account." Don't be surprised if they give you a blank stare, seem unfamiliar with these accounts, or offer you some other type of "trust" account. As the attorney, you must comply with your state's IOLTA laws and you are responsible for opening the right type of account. If the staff is unwilling to assist you, ask your colleagues for recommendations on a bank that will.

One account should be sufficient to hold all of your clients' funds. You don't need to maintain a separate account for each client.

Once opened, all checks and deposit slips must clearly designate the account as by whatever name may be required in your jurisdiction. Under the IOLTA program, the interest earned will be paid into a designated fund. It is not yours or your clients' to keep. Because client funds may not be used for any purpose other than those for which they were deposited, the bank cannot debit the account for fees, bad check charges or other incidentals. Make sure your bank acts accordingly.

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.


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.