From the Chair...

Commission on Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts

Even when interest rates and IOLTA income are at historic lows and projections for the future remain pessimistic, it is a privilege to work with a community that rallies together to advance equal access to justice. In the back drop of this difficult economy,  the Joint Meetings Committee of the Commission and NAIP produced excellent workshops this summer in Toronto, Canada.  Many from the IOLTA community devoted scarce financial resources and time to attend.  Not only did participants span the breadth of the United States, but many Canadian provinces, as well.  It was a privilege to have an opportunity to network and tap into the knowledge and insight of so many of our Canadian counterparts. I am grateful for their participation and hope they will continue to attend in the future.

This year the Meetings Committee provided exceptional sessions of substantive teaching, as well as, opportunities to harness that information and collaborate. As in previous summer workshops, the sessions provided comprehensive training on germane topics with notable speakers.  The topics ranged from interest rate forecasting, to strategic planning, to obtaining legislative funding.  An impressive line up of speakers and panelists included Chief Justice Nathan Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court; Avery Schenfeld, a prominent Canadian economist; along with directors and trustees of U.S and Canadian IOLTA programs.  In addition, multiple opportunities were provided for attendees to discuss the present economic landscape, share experiences and exchange ideas.  These discussions began with the Trustees’ and Newer Staff Breakfasts; the dialogues continued in break out sessions for IOLTA directors and staff.  In these groups, participants were given a chance to learn from each other and to consider creative avenues of revenue enhancement and programming.  It is my hope that attendees will continue the discourse and help each other move IOLTA forward.

Sadly, in Toronto we said to good-bye to five exceptional members of the Commission whose terms have expired, Ainslee Ferdie, Michael Gunn, Judge Maureen Kelly, Kathy McLeroy and Linda Rexer. Each of these members provided leadership, guidance and vision and made valuable contributions to the ongoing work of the Commission.  In the wake of their departure, we are fortunate to welcome five new members this fall, Susan Erlichman, John Gunn, Arley Harrel, Penina Lieber and Arnie McDonald.  These members bring a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to the Commission; I look forward to working with each of them. You can read more about each in IOLTA News and Notes.

The winter of 2012 will bring another opportunity for the IOLTA community to gather, learn and inspire one another.  Please mark your calendars for the 2012 Winter IOLTA Workshops to be held February 2-3 in conjunction with the ABA Mid-Year Meeting in New Orleans. Because funding for programs that provide equal access to justice becomes increasingly important in these times of economic hardship, it is imperative that the IOLTA community rallies together to help the most vulnerable population in our country.  To that end, I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans.