From the Chair...

Commission on Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Joint Meetings and Training Committee of the Commission on IOLTA and the National Association of IOLTA Programs for producing excellent sessions at the Winter 2010 IOLTA Workshops in Orlando.  I also want to thank the many members of the IOLTA community who attended the Workshops in these times of declining income and limited travel budgets.  Because the Workshops provide such a wonderful opportunity for IOLTA staff and trustees to network, share information and learn from one another, I know that many programs share my view that sending representatives to the Workshops is extremely valuable and of the highest priority.

The sessions in Orlando provided several opportunities for attendees to meet in small groups to discuss issues of common concern.  The Speed Dating – IOLTA Style session, which enabled attendees to select topics for three, 30-minute discussions at tables of ten, generated a lot of positive feedback and enthusiasm.  The Banking Breakouts once again facilitated the sharing of useful information on a regional basis.  And the Let’s Talk Again breakout groups enabled IOLTA programs of similar sizes and budgets to compare notes and talk about the critical issues they are currently facing.   

The substantive topics addressed in the plenary and concurrent workshops combined those that are timely, such as attorney compliance, social media, developing grant applications, and partnerships, with an opportunity to learn about the history of IOLTA and the evolution of legal aid.   Each of these sessions included thoughtful presentations and lively audience participation.

Hearing about the history of IOLTA from Arthur England, the father of IOLTA in the United States, was one of the highlights of the Workshops.  He traced how he learned about the IOLTA concept, traveled to Canada to learn more, and worked with a number of public-spirited young lawyers in Florida and across the country to make the creation of the first IOLTA program in the United States a reality. Mr. England called upon all present to use the inspiration of those founders to preserve the benefits of IOLTA and to innovate in the future.

That session was so well received that it will be the subject of a future Dialogue article.  In addition, the Commission on IOLTA is exploring the possibility of producing a video of interviews with many of the founders of the first IOLTA programs in the United States and Canada. Though that means our history will be preserved and can be shared with present and future members of the IOLTA community, the bar, the judiciary and the public.  I urge IOLTA leaders in each state and province to consider a similar project involving their IOLTA founders so that their history is preserved for future generations, as well.

Please plan to attend the 2010 Summer IOLTA Workshops to be held August 5-6 in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.  The Workshops will once again provide a valuable opportunity to share ideas, network and develop strategies for the future.  While it always seems impossible to improve upon the past sessions, I have no doubt that the Joint Meetings Committee’s goal is to do just that.  I look forward to seeing many of you in San Francisco.