ICYMI: Annual IOLTA Compliance Certification Requires Review of Unclaimed, Unidentifiable Funds

Every year, Arkansas attorneys who renew their law licenses are required by Arkansas Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15 to certify their compliance with court rules governing client trust accounts. In 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court adopted rules that address how attorneys who handle client funds are supposed to deal with account balances that have gone unclaimed by a client entitled to the funds or that the attorney cannot trace to a rightful owner. Those rules require an attorney to remit unclaimed or unidentifiable funds to the Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation if, after a period of two years, the attorney is unable to identify or locate the person entitled to such funds.

Beginning with this year’s IOLTA Compliance Statement, attorneys who handle client funds are required to certify that they have made a determination as to whether any of the client funds they manage include any unclaimed or unidentifiable funds. This certification is can be made by returning a hard copy of a completed, signed IOLTA Compliance Statement with the attorneys license fee payment, or by completing the required certification online.

The deadline for completing the IOLTA Compliance Statement for 2018 is March 1, 2018.

Arkansas Supreme Court Authorizes Ghostwriting, Expands Unbundling Guidance

In an opinion handed down December 14, the Arkansas Supreme Court adopted the final round of rule changes that clarify the obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct and Rules of Civil Procedure of attorneys who provide unbundled legal services. Also known as “limited scope representation” or “a la carte legal services,” unbundling allows for a client to hire an attorney to help with some, but not all, of that client’s legal matter. Such representation can include legal advice, document preparation, document review, or limited appearances on behalf of the client.

The opinion includes changes to Rules 11 and 64 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure, and adds a new Rule 87. These changes explicitly authorize ghostwriting, lay out a process by which an attorney attorney offering unbundled services can put a court on notice of the extent of representation, and provides for termination of representation without leave of the court upon the filing of a notice of completion of the matter.

The rules, as adopted, substantially track the original proposal of the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Civil Practice. The only substantive change made is that attorneys who ghostwrite pleadings must disclose their identity in a notation at the end of the document, rather than simply indicating that it was prepared with the assistance of an Arkansas-licensed attorney pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(c).

Interested in learning more about these rule changes? Join us for a webinar entitled “How to Ethically Unbundle Your Practice” on January 24, 2018 at noon. We’ll cover these rule changes, the Rules of Professional Conduct that authorize unbundling, and more! Sign up here.