August 05, 2015 Dialogue

News and Notes

New IOLTA Program Directors in Connecticut and Nevada

 

Donald Philips began serving as the Executive Director of the Connecticut Bar Foundation on May 1, 2015. He has over 26 years of experience in law, nonprofit membership organizations, government relations, and public service. Mr. Philips practiced law in Hartford for ten years prior to working ten more years with the Connecticut Bar Association (CBA), beginning as a staff lobbyist and leaving as Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations. Thereafter, he worked as a lobbyist for Rome, Smith and Lutz, a government relations firm in Hartford, before assuming his current position. Mr. Philips has a BA from Eastern Connecticut State University and a JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

 

Lisa Dreitzer began her position as the Deputy Executive Director for the State Bar of Nevada and the Nevada Bar Foundation in January 2015, after serving as Program Director. When the Nevada Bar Foundation assumed responsibility for the state IOLTA program last year, Ms. Dreitzer’s role at the time expanded to re-creating the Foundation’s governing board and implementing budgets, policies, and procedures to administer IOLTA grants. Her responsibilities as Deputy Executive Director include building and overseeing the state bar’s client protection programs, and she also serves as the state bar’s Continuing Legal Education department director. Prior to accepting a position with the state bar in 2010, she spent a decade as an Administrator for the Arizona Medical Board. Ms. Dreitzer earned her BA in English and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 

Recent IOLTA Rule Changes in Georgia and Illinois

 

Georgia became the 35th U.S. jurisdiction to implement interest rate comparability via an order entered by the Supreme Court of Georgia on April 14, 2015 (effective January 1, 2016). Interest rate comparability requires that all lawyers hold IOLTA accounts only in financial institutions that pay those accounts the highest interest rate or dividend generally available to other customers of the institution when IOLTA accounts meet the same minimum balance or other qualifications.

The Illinois Supreme Court entered an order on April 7, 2015 amending Rule 1.15 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (effective July 1, 2015) to create a mechanism for lawyers to remove unidentified fund balances from IOLTA accounts. The amended rule requires any lawyer who discovers a balance of funds in their IOLTA accounts that they are unable to trace to a client, third party, or themselves to make reasonable efforts to identify the owner and return the funds. If, after 12 months of the discovery, the lawyer determines that such efforts will not be successful, the lawyer must remit the unidentified funds to the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois (LTF), which administers the state’s IOLTA program. The amended rule also provides that LTF must return remitted funds to a lawyer upon verification of the lawyer’s claim that the owner has been identified. With these amendments, Illinois becomes the 3rd state (after Oregon and West Virginia) to address the issue of unidentified funds in IOLTA accounts.