From the Chair...

Commission on Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts

Once again, the Joint Meetings Committee of the Commission on IOLTA and the National Association of IOLTA Programs (NAIP) is to be congratulated for producing excellent sessions during the recent Summer IOLTA Workshops in San Francisco. The topics presented were timely and interesting, and the formats used enabled time for thoughtful discussion among the panelists, among the panelists and the attendees and among the attendees themselves.

The Workshops began with an update regarding the efforts to obtain unlimited FDIC insurance coverage for IOLTA programs in 2011 and beyond. As members of the IOLTA community are well aware, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in July continued unlimited FDIC insurance for non-interest bearing accounts for two years, beginning January 1, 2011. However, through an oversight, IOLTA accounts, which currently receive unlimited FDIC coverage through the end of the year, were not included in the extension of that coverage when the legislation was passed in July.

As reported in San Francisco, the American Bar Association and the National Legal Aid and Defender lobbyists are hard at work to correct this problem before the end of the year. Many IOLTA programs, state bar associations and state access to justice commissions have weighed in with their members of Congress, seeking action to correct this oversight. Those efforts have already paid off in the House of Representatives: on November 30, 2010, the House passed HB 6398, which extends unlimited FDIC insurance to IOLTA accounts through December 31, 2012. I am optimistic that the Senate will take similar action before adjourning for the year. However, if that does not occur, the Joint FDIC Task Force appointed by NAIP President Betty Torres and myself will continue to develop strategies to assist IOLTA programs respond to any issues that may arise.

It was also in San Francisco that the Commission on IOLTA had to bid farewell to four members whose terms ended: Tim Crim, Justice Denise Johnson, Bruce Iwasaki and Diane Kutzko. I want to take this opportunity to thank each for their dedicated service to the Commission. Tim Crim served as co-chair of the Joint Banking Committee and provided a critical perspective to the Commission as a former banker. Justice Johnson served as co-chair of the Joint Communications Committee and was a source of many interesting topic ideas for Dialogue articles. Bruce Iwasaki was a member of both the Joint Technical Assistance Committee and the Joint Communications Committee. His thoughtful comments during Committee and Commission meetings were always appreciated. And last, but not least, Diane Kutzko provided excellent leadership as co-chair of the Joint Meetings Committee, for which I am most grateful.

The Commission is fortunate to be able to welcome four new members this fall: Diane Don, Ainslee Ferdie, Justice Bernette Johnson and Darrell Jordan. You can read more about each in the IOLTA News and Notes section. I look forward to begin working with each of them, and I have no doubt that they will make important contributions to the work of the Commission during their terms of service.

Be sure to mark your calendars now for the Winter 2011 IOLTA Workshops, which will be held in conjunction with the ABA Midyear Meeting in Atlanta on February 10 – 11. While I recognized that many IOLTA programs are operating under budget constraints, having the opportunity to network with your colleagues, to share your successes and challenges, and to learn from one another will be an enormous help and an inspiration as you move forward to face the challenges ahead.