Commission on Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Highlights

2020

April

The IOLTA Commission met to discuss the lowering of the federal interest rate and the impact it will have on IOLTA program funding and access to justice grantees. The Commission will collect data on this issue to be used to help ensure that IOLTA programs are adequately funded as they begin to deal with the impact that the pandemic is having on the demand for civil legal aid.  The Commission also discussed the Ethics Committee’s draft Resolution to amend Model Rule 1.8 to create an exception that would allow some lawyers to provide funds to indigent clients for subsistence assistance. That is currently prohibited under the Model Rule. The Commission advised the Ethics Committee that it would await the circulation of a draft explanatory Report to determine whether and how the proposal might impact IOLTA programs and whether the Commission could support it.

The Commission’s banking subcommittee met to explore ways in which the Commission could bolster existing and develop new relationships with the banking industry to facilitate continued implementation of interest rate comparability programs. The subcommittee identified the potential ways in which collaborative efforts between the two groups could be mutually beneficial and identified several ideas that the subcommittee plans to develop in the coming months.

The Commission and NAIP’s joint subcommittee on the planning for the 2020 Summer Workshops met to discuss program topics and began developing the Workshop Agenda.  The Workshops are scheduled for July-30-31, 2020 to be held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL. In consideration of the many challenges that the IOLTA community will face due to lowered interest rates and increased need for legal aid programs and funding, the planning subcommittee has decided to focus these Workshops on the issues and challenges faced by IOLTA programs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

March

The IOLTA Commission held a meeting via telephone conference to de-brief the 2020 Winter Workshops and commence planning for the 2020 Summer Workshops which will be held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting in July. The Commission is currently developing program topics and reaching out to speakers to start shaping the agenda for these Workshops.

The Commission’s website subcommittee on working on several articles to include on the website as well as the development of a judicial tracker that will provide updates on several cases that have potential implications for IOLTA that are currently winding their way through the court system. The subcommittee is also reaching out to the panelists of popular 2020 Winter Workshop programs to invite them to be a part of webinars as an opportunity to bring their programs to more members of the IOLTA community.

The Commission and NAIP’s joint subcommittee on the 2020 IOLTA Handbook held a conference call to discuss the 2020 program survey. The members of that subcommittee are reviewing the survey sent out to IOLTA programs to ensure that the most comprehensive and useful data is being collected to ensure that Handbook continues to be an effective and indispensable resource to the IOLTA community.

The Commission is exploring several initiatives that would provide resources to assist IOLTA programs in their relationship with the local, state and national banking community. The Commission has formed a subcommittee to further develop this project. 

February

IOLTA held its 2020 Winter Workshops in conjunction with the Mid-Year meeting. Speakers included James Sandman, retiring President of the Legal Services Corporation. In the process of marketing the program, the Commission successfully enrolled members of the Community as first-time ABA members. The Workshops were held in Austin, Texas at the ABA Midyear Meeting on February 13 and 14, 2020. The Workshops are the only national program that convenes members of the IOLTA Community for cutting edge educational programming and networking opportunities.  

 

2019

December

The Commission’s Joint Workshop Planning Committee held a teleconference in furtherance of its continued work in planning the educational sessions for its 2020 Winter Workshops. Commissioners also conducted several breakout teleconferences with Workshop speakers and panel members to finalize topics and programming for the Workshops. Registration is now live for the Workshops, which will be held in Austin, Texas at the ABA Midyear Meeting on February 13 and 14, 2020. The Commission’s IOLTA Workshops are the only national program that convenes members of the IOLTA Community for cutting edge educational programming and networking opportunities. Educational session topics for the 2020 Winter Workshop will include: how IOLTA programs should address cybersecurity and related new banking requirements, a hands-on implicit bias training, an examination of whether technology driven changes to banking affect the current IOLTA model and the always popular “Let’s Keep Talking” session which facilitates collaboration and information sharing among IOLTA program across the US and Canada.

The Commission also published the 2019 IOLTA Handbook. The Handbook is the only publication of its kind that provides data regarding all aspects of IOLTA Program operations, grants, funding, and activities.
 

October

The Commission’s Joint Workshop Planning Committee held a teleconference and began developing educational sessions for its 2020 Winter Workshops. The Workshops will be held in Austin, Texas at the ABA Midyear Meeting on February 13 and 14, 2020.  The Joint Workshop Planning Committee will hold another call in November 2019.  The Commission IOLTA Workshops are the only national program that convenes members of the IOLTA Community for cutting edge educational programming and networking opportunities.

The Commission held a meeting by teleconference to identify and prioritize its work for FY 2019-2020.  In addition to the IOLTA Workshops, the Commission established a subcommittee to develop a diversity and inclusion toolkit for IOLTA programs and will work with the National Association of IOLTA Programs to make necessary updates to the IOLTA Handbook questionnaire and data collection/publication methods. In addition, the Commission is developing plans for updating its website, developing new web resources, and planning IOLTA related webinars and podcasts. Other issues now under study by the Commission are financial intermediation and cryptocurrencies and their impact on the IOLTA model.

The Commission is finalizing for publication this Fall the 2019 IOLTA Handbook.  The Handbook is the only publication of its kind that provides data regarding all aspects of IOLTA Program operations, grants, funding, and activities.

September

After successful presentation of its 2019 Summer IOLTA Workshops, the Commission commenced planning for its 2020 Winter Workshops.  The Chair of the Commission appointed the members of the Joint Workshop Subcommittee to work with members of the National Association of IOLTA Programs to plan this event.  The Commission IOLTA Workshops are the only national program that convenes members of the IOLTA Community for cutting edge educational programming and networking opportunities.

The Commission has received from almost all IOLTA programs updates to include in its 2019 IOLTA Handbook.  The Handbook is the only publication of its kind that provides data regarding all aspects of IOLTA Program operations, grants, funding, and activities. Data entry continues and the Commission continues to anticipate electronic publication of the Handbook (for the first time) in October.

Counsel for the IOLTA Commission responded to several requests for information from those in the access to justice community, including IOLTA program staff.  Necessary research was conducted and responses provided.