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Model Rules for Trust Account Overdraft Notification - Rule 5

Rule 5 - Costs

Nothing herein shall preclude a financial institution from charging a particular lawyer or law firm for the reasonable cost of producing the reports and records required by this rule.


In addition to normal monthly maintenance fees on each account, the lawyer or law firm can anticipate that financial institutions will charge additional fees for reporting overdrafts in accordance with this rule. See Johnson, Lawyer, Thou Shall Not Steal, 36 Rutgers L. Rev. 454, 555 (1985) (institutions could reasonably raise their existing charges for the notification service).

Financial institutions, however, already flag overdrafts and returned checks, and, thus, it is only slightly more burdensome for the institution to forward a copy to the state lawyer disciplinary agency. The additional cost to the lawyer should be insignificant.

Rule 5 should not be interpreted to allow a lawyer to permit trust account funds to be reduced through deductions made by a financial institution to cover costs of overdraft notification. Notification costs, if charged, should not be borne by clients.

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Center for Professional Responsibility