What Is IOLTA?

Stephanie Pauly
IOLTA is a method of raising money for charitable causes, primarily legal aid programs that provide services to persons with low or no income.

IOLTA is a method of raising money for charitable causes, primarily legal aid programs that provide services to persons with low or no income.

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Chances are you’ve heard of the term “IOLTA account,” likely in reference to your or your firm’s client trust account. Still, you might not precisely know what makes an IOLTA account different from a regular checking account or how it operates. IOLTA stands for Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts, and IOLTA programs exist in every US jurisdiction. In 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, participation in IOLTA is mandatory for all lawyers who hold client funds. Lawyers in Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Virginia also participate in IOLTA unless they’ve chosen to opt-out. It is important to note that each jurisdiction’s IOLTA program operates on an independent basis, and the rules, accounting requirements, and operating procedures can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Lawyers who are licensed to practice in multiple jurisdictions should make sure they are familiar with and understand the rules pertaining to IOLTA accounts in each jurisdiction they are licensed. 

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