Compliance FAQs

These questions and answers are designed to help with the completion of the Annual IOLTA Compliance Reporting form – the printed or online version.

1. Where and how do I complete the Annual IOLTA Compliance Reporting form?

2. How can I check to see if I have filed my IOLTA and/or Pro Bono compliance form(s)?

3. I have new IOLTA account(s) since the last compliance report. What box should I check?

4. I do not see my IOLTA accounts listed on the online form. What should I do?

5. I am an associate at a law firm and do not personally maintain escrow accounts. How should I complete the compliance form?

6. Do I need to fill out a form if my law firm has already done so?

7. I am my law firm’s reporting attorney. How should I complete the compliance form?

8. I am a sole practitioner. What box should I check?

9. My escrow account usually holds very few funds. What box should I check?

10. I and/or my law firm participate fully in another jurisdiction’s IOLTA program. How should I complete the compliance report form?

11. My firm has an office in Maryland, but our main location is out of state, and our escrow accounts are maintained at our main location. What should I do?

12. I work for the federal or state government. What box should I check?

13. I am an in-house counselor for a corporation and do not handle IOLTA-eligible trust funds. What box should I check?

14. I am a new admittee to the Maryland bar and have no IOLTA accounts. Do I have to set up account (s) immediately to be in compliance?

15. I am a judicial law clerk. What box should I check?

16. I am Of Counsel to a law firm and do not handle IOLTA-eligible trust funds. What box should I check?

17. I am retired. What box should I check?

18. I have a MAHT (Maryland Affordable Housing Trust) account instead of an IOLTA account. What box should I check?

19. I do not maintain escrow accounts at all. I bill my clients only after services have been rendered, and do not hold trust funds on behalf of my clients. What box should I check?

20. My address is wrong. How do I correct this?

21. Do I have to open or change my IOLTA account over to an Honor Roll financial institution?

22. What determines whether money received from my client should go into an IOLTA account?

23. How do I open a new IOLTA account?

Answers to Questions about the IOLTA Compliance Report

Q1. Where and how do I complete Annual IOLTA Compliance Reporting form?

A. We encourage online filing at the judiciary web site, where you can access your IOLTA Compliance Report. Go to the “Compliance Determination” section, check the appropriate box or boxes, “sign” the form by entering your initials where indicated, and click submit to complete your IOLTA reporting requirement. Please print the Confirmation Report for your records.

Alternatively, you can complete and return a hard copy of the form to the Administrative Office of the Courts at the address on the back of the form. Please be sure to make a copy of your completed form for your records.
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Q2. How can I check to see if I have filed my IOLTA and/or Pro Bono compliance form(s)?

A. You can access the online filing system and search using your name, NOT your client protection fund ID number.  If there is a date in both the IOLTA and Pro Bono columns, you have filed both reports.  However, if one or both of the column(s) is blank that means the report was not filed.

Note: Electronic filing is instantaneous and the dates will appear immediately after filing.  It can take three days after receipt of paper forms for the system to be updated if you send the form(s) in the mail.
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Q3. I have new IOLTA account(s) since the last compliance report. What box should I check?

A. If you have any new IOLTA accounts, you would check Box #1 under the “Compliance Determination” section. Our online form indicates the IOLTA accounts that we currently have on file for you in our database. Please simply confirm whether these accounts are still open or if they have been deleted.

If you have current IOLTA accounts at more than one financial institution and will not be submitting your form online, please make copies of the form and complete a copy for each account. If you have multiple IOLTA-eligible accounts at the same institution, simply list all account numbers in the space provided. Attach additional sheets if necessary and return this to the Administrative Office of the Courts.
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Q4. I do not see my IOLTA accounts listed on the online form. What should I do?

A. If you have IOLTA accounts that are not listed on the lower part of the form, it is due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • You are part of a law firm and your funds are deposited into the law firm’s IOLTA account. The accounts may belong to many attorneys in that firm but will be listed only under only one person’s name, the IOLTA Reporting Attorney (usually the signer unless you have indicated otherwise).
  • You have opened an account(s) within the past 90 days.

There is no need for you to take any action if any of the above describes your situation. If you have accounts that you believe should be listed, please contact your financial institution to assure accurate reporting in the future. Meanwhile, you may check Box #1 to complete this report and list the account information.
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Q5. I am an associate at a law firm and do not personally maintain escrow accounts. How should I complete the compliance form?

A. Check Box #2a under the “Compliance Determination” section. Please be sure to fill in the name of the IOLTA Reporting Attorney for your law firm. The Reporting Attorney shall be authorized to report on all law firm IOLTA accounts. If you do not know the name of the IOLTA Reporting Attorney, please put in the name of your law firm.

Please note that the only the report by your firm’s IOLTA Reporting Attorney will list all of the banks and account information. You are not required to list the bank account information on your individual compliance report but you must submit an individual compliance report with your signature, listing the name of the IOLTA Reporting Attorney or law firm.
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Q6. Do I need to fill out a form if my law firm has already done so?

A. Yes. Please note that you do not have to fill in the account information, but you do have to return the form. Check Box #2a under the “Compliance Determination” section. If you do not know the name of the IOLTA Reporting Attorney, put in the name of your law firm. See also the preceding question.
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Q7. I am my law firm’s IOLTA Reporting Attorney. How should I complete the compliance form?

A. Check Box #2b under the “Compliance Determination” section. The IOLTA Reporting Attorney shall be authorized to report on all law firm IOLTA accounts. You should list all of the banks and account information for your firm, fill in your name as the IOLTA Reporting Attorney for your law firm and sign the form.
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Q8. I am a solo practitioner. What box should I check?

A. A solo practitioner should check any applicable box except those pertaining to law firms (Box #2a and Box #2b). You do not have to fill out the “Name of Firm IOLTA Reporting Attorney.” See other questions and answers for guidance.
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Q9. My escrow account usually holds very few funds. What box should I check?

A. If your escrow account is set up as a non-interest bearing account and not an IOLTA because it usually contains less than $3,500 on a monthly basis, you may elect to waive participation in the IOLTA program, pursuant to Maryland Code, Business Occupations and Professions, Section 10-303(c) by checking Box #3 under the “Compliance Determination” section.

Please note that if you need to change the status of your trust account(s), you must call the bank and follow the bank’s procedures. Maryland Legal Services Corporation and the Court of Appeals may not convert the account(s) for you.
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Q10. I and/or my law firm participate fully in another jurisdiction’s IOLTA program. How should I complete the compliance report form?

A. If you are a Maryland admitted attorney, but practicing in other jurisdictions and if you participate fully in the other jurisdiction’s IOLTA program, check Box #4 under the “Compliance Determination” section and fill in the name of at least one one of the other jurisdictions in the space provided. It is not necessary to provide your out-of-state IOLTA account information.
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Q11. My firm has an office in Maryland, but our main location is out of state, and our escrow accounts are maintained at our main location. What should I do?

A. If you and/or your firm are fully participating in the IOLTA program of other jurisdictions, see answer to question above. Any IOLTA-eligible funds that are NOT maintained in other jurisdiction’s IOLTA program are fully subject to Maryland’s IOLTA requirement and such accounts must be reported accordingly.
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Q12. I work for the federal or state government. What box should I check?

A. Check Box #5 under the “Compliance Determination” section.
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Q13. I am an in-house counselor for a corporation and do not handle IOLTA-eligible trust funds. What box should I check?

A. Check Box #5 under the “Compliance Determination” section.
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Q14. I am a new admittee to the Maryland bar and have no IOLTA accounts. Do I have to set up account (s) immediately to be in compliance?

A. You do not have to open an IOLTA account to be in compliance with IOLTA. If you have no client accounts yet, check Box #5 under the “Compliance Determination” section.  Please note that an IOLTA account must be established if you are holding short-term or nominal trust funds of at least $3,500 on a regular basis. If this is not the case, you are eligible for a waiver, and you may open a non-interest bearing escrow account. You may request a waiver by checking Box #3 under the “Compliance Determination” section. For more information about establishing IOLTA accounts, see Questions 22 and 23 below.
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Q15. I am a judicial law clerk. What box should I check?

A. Check Box #5 under the “Compliance Determination” section.
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Q16. I am Of Counsel to a law firm and do not handle IOLTA-eligible trust funds. What box should I check?

A. Check Box #5 under the “Compliance Determination” section.
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Q17. I am retired. What box should I check?

A. Check Box #5 under the “Compliance Determination” section.
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Q18. I have a MAHT (Maryland Affordable Housing Trust) account instead of an IOLTA account. What box should I check?

A. Check Box #5 under the “Compliance Determination” section.  Do not report MAHT account information.
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Q19. I do not maintain escrow accounts at all. I bill my clients only after services have been rendered, and do not hold trust funds on behalf of my clients. What box should I check?

A. Check Box #5 under the “Compliance Determination” section.
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Q20. My address is wrong. How do I correct this?

A.  MLSC cannot change your address. You can change your address with the Client Protection Fund online at http://www.courts.state.md.us/cpf/, or in writing directly to the Client Protection Fund at the address listed below or via fax at (410) 897-0555.

Client Protection Fund of Maryland
200 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Suite 350
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
or call (410) 630-8140
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Q21. Do I have to open or change my IOLTA account over to an Honor Roll financial institution?

A. No. Financial institutions that are members of the IOLTA Honor Roll help support legal aid to Maryland’s low-income population by paying premium rates on IOLTA accounts. While we strongly encourage attorneys to use Honor Roll financial institutions and help support the provision of critically needed legal aid to those Marylanders unable to afford such services, you are not required to do so.
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Q22. What determines whether money received from my client should go into an IOLTA account?

A. Lawyers continue to exercise their discretion in determining whether a given client’s trust deposit is of sufficient size or will be held for sufficient duration to justify the cost of being individually invested for a client.

Funds are placed in an IOLTA account only when they are nominal in amount, or being held for a short period of time. If the trust funds are not placed in an IOLTA account, they shall be otherwise deposited or invested, separate from the attorney’s own accounts, as directed by the client or determined by the attorney.

A Maryland State Bar Association study estimated that it would cost at least $50 to create and administer a separate client interest-bearing account. Therefore, $50 serves as a benchmark for a lawyer to place the client funds into an IOLTA account when “the interest that it would earn: (1) would not exceed $50; or (2) would exceed $50 but would not cover the cost of administering an interest bearing account on which interest is payable to the client or beneficial owner.” MD. Bus. Occ. Code Ann. §10-303.
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Q23. How do I open a new IOLTA account?

A. The process of establishing an IOLTA account is simple, and once it is done no further time or effort on your part is required. Fill out the Notice of New IOLTA Account form and submit it to an approved IOLTA financial institution and send a copy to MLSC. That is all you have to do! MLSC and your financial institution will do the rest.

If you need more information, call MLSC at 410-576-9494 or the toll-free IOLTA Hotline at 800-492-1340.
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