Ethics Counsel on www.OKbar.org

Changes to Trust Account Reporting

By Gina Hendryx, OBA Ethics Counsel

Historically when you received your dues statement, you also were required to report whether or not you maintained a client trust account with information pertaining to the location, type and number of the account. Effective Jan. 1, the method and timing of reporting trust accounts has changed. If you noticed, your dues statement this year does not include a section for reporting of trust accounts. Instead, your statement includes a separate sheet of paper detailing the manner in which you should now report additions, changes or deletions to trust accounts.

You no longer need to make a yearly reporting if your trust account has had no changes. If you have had changes to your trust account since your last report, you are now required to notify the Oklahoma Bar Association within 30 days of the modification. Trust account changes are to be reported contemporaneously and annual reporting is no longer necessary.

These new reporting requirements may be found in Rule 1.15 to the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct. The pertinent language is:

“g) Effective January 1, 2009, all members of the Bar who are required under the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct, to maintain a trust account for the deposit of clients’ funds entrusted to said lawyer, shall do so and furnish information regarding said account(s) as hereinafter provided. Each member of the Bar shall provide the Oklahoma Bar Association with the name of the bank or banks in which the lawyer carries any trust account, the name under which the account is carried and the account number. The lawyer or law firm shall provide such information within thirty (30) days from the date that said account is opened, closed, changed, or modified. The Oklahoma Bar Association will provide on-line access and/or paper forms for members to comply with these reporting requirements. Provision will be made for a response by lawyers who do not maintain a trust account and the reason for not maintaining said account. Information received by the Association as a result of this inquiry shall remain confidential except as provided by the Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings. Failure of any lawyer to respond giving the information requested by the Oklahoma Bar Association, Oklahoma Bar Foundation or the Office of the General Counsel of the Oklahoma Bar Association will be grounds for appropriate discipline.”

You may check your account reporting status on the OBA Web site. Go to www.okbar.org and click on the link for my okbar. This is a password-protected site and will require your OBA number and password to enter. Your password is on your dues statement or may be obtained by requesting same from the site.

Once you have entered the my okbar section of the OBA Web site, you may review your roster information, dues and MCLE status, as well as report your trust account information. ALL client trust accounts should be reported on the form. This includes IOLTA accounts and non-IOLTA accounts.

If you do not have Internet access or wish to report changes directly, you may contact the OBA and request a paper form to report your trust account information.

Questions about your client trust account? It’s a member benefit, and all inquiries are confidential. Contact Ms. Hendryx at ginah@okbar.org or (405)416-7083; (800) 522-8065.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- Jan.10, 2009 --  Vol. 80; No. 1.