The Supreme Judicial Court created the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program in 1985. Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15 describes the established and maintenance of IOLTA accounts. Lawyers holding funds on a client’s behalf must place the funds either in an account which pays interest to the client or in an IOLTA account. An IOLTA account is selected if the funds are relatively modest, or will be held by the lawyer for only a short period: in either of these situations, the interest that might be earned for the client would be less than the cost of establishing and maintaining an account for the benefit of the client.
The mission of the IOLTA Committee is to increase access to justice for all residents of the Commonwealth by funding and supporting programs that provide legal services for low and moderate income residents and initiatives that improve the administration of justice.
For the past few years, the legal needs of low income people have grown in both scope and complexity. An increasing number of low- income people work at low-paying jobs with no health insurance, and they lack childcare and adequate transportation resources. A disproportionate slice of their income goes to housing that, because of short supply, is often both costly and substandard. These difficult circumstances are now compounded by new problems associated with an uncertain economy. The recent recession has boosted unemployment and exacerbated problems in housing, transportation, health care and education. In addition, federal and state budget cuts are significantly affecting programs that protect the poor. As the characteristics of poverty have changed and the state faces challenging economic times, legal services are increasingly needed to protect those who are most vulnerable. IOLTA funds are essential because they provide nearly 30% of revenues for legal aid programs in the Commonwealth.
MA IOLTA Committee
7 Winthrop Sq. Third Fl.
Boston, MA 02110
Phone (617) 723-9093