Hello welcome to this edition of the JACPA Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent Florida Bar News report that The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors will review and potentially vote on proposed amendments to the Bar’s trust account Rules at its March 23, 2012 meeting in Pensacola.
The Disciplinary Procedure Committee has been working on the revisions for more than a year and forwarded the proposed revisions to the BOG during its Tallahassee meeting last month and the proposed revisions will be on the agenda of the March 23, 2012 BOG meeting.
The proposed rule amendments would require lawyers to prepare a written trust account plan which identifies the individuals in the law firm who are primarily responsible for the IOTA trust account, including the required monthly reconciliations and the annual list. The plan must also specify the duties of lawyers who are not responsible for the trust account or supervise the trust accounting, but have clients with funds in the trust account. The plan must also identify what associates and other non-managing members should do if they suspect that there is a problem with the firm’s trust account.
The proposed trust account rule amendments also address how electronic transfers from trust accounts must be accomplished, what documentation is required as part of such transfers, and restricts when electronic transfers can be used. The amendments reaffirm that lawyers are prohibited from signing blank trust account checks and would also require that each trust account check be signed by a lawyer, not a non-lawyer employee of the firm or with a signature stamp.
Finally, the proposed revised comments have sample forms, including checks and monthly reconciliation forms, as well as sample trust accounting policies which may be used by law firms.
Bottom line: If you have an IOTA trust account in your practice, get ready to prepare your written plan and I will keep you posted on the progress of these proposed trust account rule changes.
Be careful out there!
| As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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