IOLTA and Lawyers
Laws and rules governing lawyer participation in IOLTA programs vary by jurisdiction. To learn the requirements in your jurisdiction, contact your IOLTA program.
Where Lawyers Bank Matters
In jurisdictions throughout the United States, it really matters where lawyers bank because interest rates paid by financial institutions on IOLTA accounts vary and greatly impact the revenue generated for the IOLTA program. A 2% interest rate generates 10 times more interest income than a 0.20% interest rate.
Why does this matter so much? Because IOLTA is a significant, ongoing source of funding for civil legal aid, which helps low-income and vulnerable individuals gain access to safety, shelter, and economic security. By choosing financial institutions that payhigher interest rates, lawyers boost IOLTA revenue at no cost to themselves.
Pro Bono Services
In jurisdictions throughout Canada and the United States, there is an expectation that lawyers will provide some legal services at no fee to low-income or modest-income individuals. There are many opportunities for lawyers to provide pro bono legal services through IOLTA-funded programs.
“When society confers the privilege to practice law on an individual, he or she accepts the responsibility to promote justice and to make justice equally accessible to all people. Thus, all lawyers should aspire to render some legal services without fee…for the public good.”