The Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Program is a unique and innovative way to increase access to justice for individuals and families living in poverty and to improve our justice system. Without taxing the public, and at no cost to lawyers or their clients, interest from lawyer trust accounts is pooled to provide civil legal aid to the poor and support improvements to the justice system.
Amendments Made to Oklahoma IOLTA Rule 1.15
Effective January 1, 2023
On October 10, 2022, upon application made by the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, the Oklahoma Supreme Court amended Rule 1.15, Safekeeping Property, of the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct to clarify the meaning and implementation of “interest rate comparability” in the Rule. Beginning January 1, 2023, in order to qualify to offer IOLTA accounts to Oklahoma attorneys, banks must pay the same rate of interest on those attorney IOLTA accounts as they pay on other non-attorney accounts with the same balance and other requirements. The interest earned on IOLTA accounts goes to the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, the official charitable arm of the Oklahoma Bar Association. IOLTA funds provide monetary support for legal aid for the poor, elderly, children, domestic violence survivors, the homeless, and many others, as well as funds for access to justice, law-related education, high school mock trial programs, and many other critical law-related charitable programs and activities throughout Oklahoma.
This Rule change does not require Oklahoma attorneys to take any action. In the unlikely event, however, that a bank in which an IOLTA account has been opened does not agree to pay the same interest rate on IOLTA account deposits as it pays on other, comparable deposits made by non-attorney clients, the Foundation will work with the attorney and the bank to reach a resolution on the account, which could include opening of an account at a bank that does qualify to offer IOLTA accounts in accordance with the amendments.