There are two rules that deal directly with IOLTA and trust accounting issues:
- Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15
This rule defines lawyers’ duties in holding client funds and includes requirements related to IOLTA accounts and non-IOLTA client trust accounts. This rule also includes detailed requirements for trust account recordkeeping by lawyers. See the full rule.
- Supreme Court Rule 756
Under Supreme Court Rule 756, lawyers are required to report certain information about their client trust accounts as part of the annual attorney registration process. See Rule 756.
- ARDC Client Trust Account Handbook
This handbook (PDF) from the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission provides detailed information on how to properly manage client trust accounts. The handbook includes answers to many frequently asked questions.
An on-demand CLE webcast from the ARDC and LTF can be viewed free of charge from the ARDC’s web site: The Ethical Requirements of Handling Trust Funds Under Rule 1.15 and IOLTA Basics
- Contact LTF
Contact LTF with IOLTA-related questions:
Terri L. Smith-Ashford, Deputy Director for Finance & Operations: 312-938-3001
David Holtermann, Deputy Director for Grants & Policy/General Counsel: 312-938-3076
- Ethics Inquiry Program
The ARDC’s Ethics Inquiry Program may be able to answer your trust account-related questions. The program can be contacted in Chicago (312-565-2600) or Springfield (217-522-6838).
The ARDC published an extensive set of FAQs when Rule 1.15 was last amended in 2011. A short collection of additional questions and answers is below.
IOLTA Questions & Answers for Lawyers
Do I need an IOLTA account?
If you handle nominal or short-term funds belonging to a client or third-person, you need an IOLTA account for their deposit.
How do I set up an IOLTA account?
Visit our page on Establishing an IOLTA Account for instructions and forms.
I already have an IOLTA account. Does Rule 1.15 require me to do anything further?
- You must follow all the requirements of Rule 1.15 when holding property of clients and third persons. If you have a properly established IOLTA account, you should continue follow the requirements of Rule 1.15(a), (f) and (g) regarding when to deposit in an IOLTA account, and when to deposit them in a separate account with interest paid to the client.
- Through no fault of the lawyer, banks occasionally fail to properly establish an account as an IOLTA account. You can confirm that your bank has properly set up your IOLTA account and verify that the account is generating interest that is remitted to the Lawyers Trust Fund. You can also verify that your name or your law firm’s name is printed on checks drawn on the account, and that the account uses the Lawyers Trust Fund’s tax identification number.
I am licensed in more than one state. Do I need to use an Illinois IOLTA account?
- The location of your IOLTA account is determined not by where you are licensed, but by the state where your office is situated, where you practice, and where your clients reside or do business, unless otherwise directed by your client.
- For example, a Missouri lawyer whose sole office is in Missouri but who occasionally represents clients in Illinois need not establish an Illinois IOLTA account to handle client funds. However, the lawyer should handle client funds as required by the safekeeping of property rules in Missouri, including participation in that state’s IOLTA program as appropriate. In contrast, a lawyer or law firm with bona fide offices situated in both Florida and Illinois would require an IOLTA account in each state.
Whose name and taxpayer ID number go on the IOLTA account?
The proper taxpayer identification number (TIN) on an account is that of the Lawyers Trust Fund, not that of the lawyer or law firm. LTF does not publish its TIN online but it is available on request. The name on an IOLTA account (and any checks printed) should be that of the lawyer or law firm. The Lawyers Trust Fund is not the owner of the account.