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June 15, 2013 Dialogue

IOLTA: From the Chair...

By Penina Lieber, Commission on Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts

The Commission recently held its fall meeting in Oklahoma City where we welcomed three new members: Jill Hasegawa, Hawaii; Chad Hooker, Wyoming; and Justice Kaye Hearn, South Carolina (see news and notes). We also welcomed the Commission's new ABA Board of Governors liaison, Eduardo Rodriguez, Texas. We had a wonderful time getting to know each other and discussing the work of the Commission and making plans for the coming year.

At lunch, we were joined by guests from the Oklahoma Bar and the legal services community. Our guests from the Oklahoma Bar Foundation included: Dietmar Caudle, President–Elect; Judge Millie Otey, Secretary/Treasurer; and Nancy Norsworthy, Executive Director. Also present were Michael Figgins, Executive Director of Oklahoma Legal Aid Services, Barbara Sears, Executive Director of Tulsa Lawyers for Children, Inc. (TLC); and John Morris Williams, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association. We were grateful for their presence and for the valuable information they shared that allowed the Commission members to have a better sense of Oklahoma's IOLTA and Access to Justice programs. Following the meeting, Nancy Norsworthy arranged for a private tour of the Oklahoma City Memorial – a particularly moving experience for all.

On August 7–8, 2013, the Commission and the National Association of IOLTA Programs (NAIP) held the very successful Summer IOLTA workshops in San Francisco, where much was learned and information shared. At the workshops, the new history on IOLTA videos were introduced. These videos are an important educational tool and are available to be shown at meetings, programs and CLEs. We were especially pleased that the videos contained clips of Justice Arthur England, who is affectionately known as the "Father of the U.S. IOLTA community."

Justice England passed away on August 1, 2013. He was the first to bring the IOLTA concept to the United States and through his tireless work, expanded the concept throughout the country. Justice England wrote two opinions for the Florida Supreme Court, thereby enabling the establishment of the first U.S. IOLTA program. He also rallied members of the legal community to raise IOLTA to a national movement. Today, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have IOLTA programs, which provide essential funding for legal services in their jurisdictions.

The videos are important in that they have captured his insights and preserved them for future generations. I was pleased to join the workshop attendees remembering Arthur England — not by a moment of silence but rather with a standing ovation and resounding applause. The Miami Herald wrote that of his many accomplishments, Justice England was "proudest of bringing the interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) system to Florida." Arthur's legacy lives on today through the funding of legal services for the poor throughout the country.