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. How do I complete the annual IOLTA compliance reporting?

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

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 online. What should I do?

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

6. Do I need to submit IOLTA compliance information if my law firm has already done so?

7. I am my law firm’s reporting attorney. How should I submit compliance information?

8. I am a solo practitioner. How should I submit compliance information?

9. My escrow account usually holds very few funds. How should I submit compliance information?

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

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. How should I submit compliance information?

13. I am an in-house counselor for a corporation and do not handle IOLTA-eligible trust funds. How should I submit compliance information?

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. How should I submit compliance information?

16. I am Of Counsel to a law firm and do not handle IOLTA-eligible trust funds. How should I submit compliance information?

17. I am retired. How should I submit compliance information?

18. I have a MAHT (Maryland Affordable Housing Trust) account instead of an IOLTA account. How should I submit compliance information?

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. How should I submit compliance information?

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. How do I complete the annual IOLTA compliance reporting?

A. IOLTA compliance reporting must be completed online through the Attorney Information System (AIS). You must first register with AIS in order to complete the online reports.

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Q2. How can I check to see if I have filed my IOLTA and/or Pro Bono compliance reporting?

A. Log into the Attorney Information System.

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Q3. I have new IOLTA account(s) since the last compliance report. What should I do?

A. If you have any new IOLTA accounts, you will report that you have deposited your IOLTA-eligible trust funds in an interest-bearing account. 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 closed.

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Q4. I do not see my IOLTA accounts listed online. What should I do?

A. If you have IOLTA accounts that are not listed, 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 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 ensure accurate reporting in the future. Meanwhile, you report that you have deposited your IOLTA-eligible trust funds in an interest-bearing account 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 submit compliance information?

A. Certify that you maintain and deposit all IOLTA-eligible funds in your firm’s IOLTA Account(s). 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.

Please note that 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 individual compliance information, listing the name of the IOLTA Reporting Attorney or law firm.
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Q6. Do I need to submit IOLTA compliance information 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. Certify that you maintain and deposit all IOLTA-eligible funds in your firm’s IOLTA Account(s). 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 reporting attorney. How should I submit compliance information?

A. Certify that you are the IOLTA reporting attorney chosen and authorized by your firm to file the annual law firm IOLTA Compliance Report and provide your firm’s account information . 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 and fill in your name as the IOLTA Reporting Attorney for your law firm.
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Q8. I am a solo practitioner. How should I submit compliance information?

A. A solo practitioner should check any applicable box. 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. How should I submit compliance information?

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 annually elect to waive participation in the IOLTA program, pursuant to Maryland Code, Business Occupations and Professions, Section 10-303(c).

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 cannot 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 reporting?

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, certify that you maintain your IOLTA account(s) in a state other than Maryland 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. How should I submit compliance information?

A. Choose the option that certifies that you do not have a client trust account due to your professional activities.
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Q13. I am an in-house counselor for a corporation and do not handle IOLTA-eligible trust funds. How should I submit compliance information?

A. Choose the option that certifies that you do not have a client trust account due to your professional activities.
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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, choose the option that certifies that you do not have a client trust account due to your professional activities. 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 annually request a waiver on the report. For more information about establishing IOLTA accounts, see Questions 22 and 23 below.
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Q15. I am a judicial law clerk. How should I submit compliance information?

A. Choose the option that certifies that you do not have a client trust account due to your professional activities.
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Q16. I am Of Counsel to a law firm and do not handle IOLTA-eligible trust funds. How should I submit compliance information?

A. Choose the option that certifies that you do not have a client trust account due to your professional activities.
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Q17. I am retired. How should I submit compliance information?

A. Choose the option that certifies that you do not have a client trust account due to your professional activities.
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Q18. I have a MAHT (Maryland Affordable Housing Trust) account instead of an IOLTA account. How should I submit compliance information?

A. Choose the option that certifies that you do not have a client trust account due to your professional activities. 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. How should I submit compliance information?

A. Choose the option that certifies that you do not have a client trust account due to your professional activities.
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Q20. My address is wrong. How do I correct this?

A. MLSC cannot change your address. You must update your address and contact information online using the Attorney Information System (AIS) available at www.mdcourts.gov/lawyers/ais.
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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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