From the Chair...

Commission on Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts

On February 6th and 7th, members of the IOLTA community braved the Chicago cold to attend the Winter IOLTA Workshops. Among the attendees, I was pleased to see and meet a number of trustees and new IOLTA directors. Many thanks to the Joint Meetings Committee who did a stellar job putting together two days of timely and interesting sessions with many compelling outside speakers.

We were privileged to have Mary McClymont, President of the Public Welfare Foundation speak about the evolution of the newly launched communications hub, Voices for Civil Justice. Martha Bergmark, its executive director, laid out the mission, possibilities for collaboration with the IOLTA community and next steps. Also on that panel, Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners spoke about the current state of public opinion toward civil legal aid.

On Friday morning we were fortunate to hear Jim Sandman, President of LSC, provide an update on LSC's Data Project, a survey of its grantees, its Technology Summit, and the status of funding. He was followed by a discussion on a macroeconomics and an economic forecast for 2014 from Professor Edward F. Stuart of Northeastern Illinois University.

Ann Carmichael, ABA Legislative Counsel, reported that the House Financial Services Committee passed the Credit Union Share Insurance Fund Parity Act, which will allow credit unions to receive federal insurance coverage for IOLTA accounts held by members on behalf of other individuals who are not members. The legislation eliminates any difference in coverage between credit unions and banks, providing federal insurance of $250,000 per owner, per institution. Having passed the House Committee, the bill will go before the full House before moving on to the Senate.

Not only did the workshops have outstanding speakers, but an exceptional selection of topics. Sessions addressed access to justice commissions, banking, interest rates, social media, and unclaimed property. As tradition dictates, the workshops were topped off with the ever popular "Speed Dating" and exchanges of ideas and issues at the "Let's Talk" sessions.

The two days of workshops concluded with the meeting of the Commission. I am always pleased to welcome members of the IOLTA community to the meeting and look forward to hearing about IOLTA developments in their jurisdictions. I am also grateful that Shannon Scurggs, President of NAIP, joined us to provide the NAIP report at which time she highlighted the February launch of the new IOLTA.org.

A joint Commission/NAIP project, members of both the Commission and NAIP convened a task force to move IOLTA.org to a more cost effective and user–friendly platform. I would like to recognize Al Flores and Chuck Dunlap for the many hours they volunteered to develop the site and move the library contents to the new platform. While the site has always been replete with information, the new interface should be easier to navigate and allow for better search results. I hope the IOLTA community will take advantage of this valuable resource.

IOLTA.org is only one example of the continuing partnership and collaboration between NAIP and the Commission. It was this partnership that contributed, in large part, to the success of the Winter IOLTA Workshops. With the close of this set of workshops, I look forward to seeing many of you in the warmth of the Boston sun on August 7th and 8th for the Summer IOLTA Workshops.