ABA praises 11th hour Senate action protecting IOLTA

By Stephen N. Zack

In the quest for 'justice for all,' a major victory has been won. Congress has acted to protect a critical funding stream for legal aid to the poor, legal education, and the administration of justice by continuing unlimited FDIC coverage for Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA).

The issue was serious and the hour was growing late: If Congress had not extended unlimited FDIC insurance on these accounts for two more years, lawyers and their clients faced complicated ethical and financial questions about handling money involved in legal transactions. The ultimate casualty of this confusion would have been poor people whose access to the justice system comes through assistance from IOLTA-funded programs.

Like all victories, this one required a team effort with some exceptional leaders. The ABA is grateful for the tireless Congressional leadership of Senators Merkley, Enzi, Isakson, Cornyn, Johnson, Corker, and Dodd, and of Representatives Doggett, Biggert, Frank, Conyers and Bachus. ABA members, bar associations, IOLTA programs, Access to Justice Commissions and others across the country also played a crucial role by joining the effort to pass this bill. We now welcome the president's signing the measure into law.

This dramatic move helps practicing lawyers and their clients, while safeguarding funding for legal aid and the justice system. During this holiday season, it is something to celebrate.

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Stephen N. Zack is president of the American Bar Association.

Published: Thu, Dec 30, 2010

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