Updated: Aug. 18, 2018

IOLTA and Client Trust Accounts

The WSBA publication, Managing Client Trust Accounts Booklet, provides guidance on how to manage a trust account and recordkeeping requirements. For help with periodic trust-account reconciliations, fill out the WSBA’s Monthly Reconciliation and Review Report form.

Send inquiries regarding the trust account rules: Rule 1.15A (Safeguarding Property) and Rule 1.15B (Required Trust Account Records) of the Washington Supreme Court's Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) to Rita Swanson, audit manager.

The Legal Foundation of Washington (LFW) maintains the list of financial institutions authorized to offer IOLTA accounts, available on their website. Take the Request to Establish an IOLTA Account Form to the bank when opening IOLTA or individual trust account. Please contact Linda Graham, with LFW, at 206-957-6282 with any questions regarding the bank list.

Trust Account Overdrafts

Under Rule 15.4 of the Washington Supreme Court's Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct (ELC), banks report trust account overdrafts and checks presented against insufficient funds (whether or not paid) to the Washington State Bar Association. Lawyers are also required to notify the WSBA. A trust account overdraft may result in a grievance investigation under ELC 5.3.

If a trust account is overdrawn, or if a check is presented against insufficient funds, a lawyer must report the overdraft and provide a full explanation of the cause of the overdraft to Disciplinary Counsel Craig Bray.

Random Examinations

Under Rule 15.1(a) of the Washington Supreme Court's Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel is authorized to examine the books and records of any lawyer or law firm selected at random to determine whether the lawyer or law firm is complying with Rule 1.15A of the Washington Supreme Court's Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC), RPC 1.15B, and the other RPC referenced in RPC 1.15A or RPC 1.15B.

Resources

Rule 15.7 of the Washington Supreme Court's Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct (Trust Accounts and the Legal Foundation of Washington): 
WSBA Advisory Opinion 1957 (whether lawyer is required to open multiple accounts to ensure full FDIC coverage) 
WSBA Trust Account Information FAQs
Sophisticated scams abound – Florida Bar News
What you need to know about this new cashier’s check scam – May 12, 2016, NWSidebar article