Ethics Corner Article
Dear Ethics Committee:
I generally keep my clients’ funds in an IOLTA account. In reviewing the Supreme Court Rules, I noticed that the account is limited to funds which are “nominal in amount” or to be held “for a short period of time.” This may not be a question for the Ethics Committee, but what do those phrases mean exactly and why are they part of the Rule?
- Ethics Question
In New Hampshire, an IOLTA account is an “account for clients’ funds which are nominal in amount or to be held for a short period of time,” which must comply with the provisions of New Hampshire Supreme Court Rule 50. SC Rule 50(1)(A). The Supreme Court Rules become an ethical obligation under the New Hampshire Rules of Professional Responsibility (RPC).
The lawyer shall maintain the minimum financial records with respect to the client and third party funds as may be required by the New Hampshire Supreme Court Rules and shall comply with every other aspect of those Rules.
RPC Rule 1.15(a) (emphasis added). Accordingly, your question is one that falls within our purview.
This Ethics Corner Article was submitted for publication to the NHBA Board of Governors at its January 21, 2021 Meeting. The Ethics Committee provides general guidance on the New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct and publishes brief commentaries in the Bar News and other NHBA media outlets. New Hampshire lawyers may contact the Committee for confidential and informal guidance on their own prospective conduct or to suggest topics for Ethics Corner commentaries by emailing the Ethics Committee Staff Liaison.