CALL FOR COMMENTS – Lawyer Trust Account Rules

The Board of Officers and Commissioners of the Wyoming State Bar invites comments from Bar members regarding the following proposed amendments to Rule 1.15 (safekeeping property) of the Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct.

Recent events have highlighted the need for significant amendments to the lawyer trust account rule, Rule 1.15.  In a recent discipline case, the lawyer treated his trust account like a personal checking account. Bar Counsel’s investigation revealed the account was overdrawn on numerous occasions. Because Wyoming does not require notification of trust account overdrafts, these irregularities went undetected until Bar Counsel began receiving complaints from clients.  By then, much damage was done.

The vast majority of jurisdictions have a rule requiring financial institutions to notify bar counsel whenever a lawyer’s trust account is overdrawn. Wyoming is one of four states that does not have such a rule.  The following proposed amendments, in addition to requiring that Bar Counsel be notified of trust account overdrafts, contain Rule changes:

  • Eliminating Rule 1.15A, special provisions regarding IOLTA accounts, and moving those provisions within the body of Rule 1.15(a).  This will avoid confusion that often comes with having two rules similarly named.
  • Updating the record keeping requirements for lawyer trust accounts in accordance with ABA Model Rules for Trust Account Records that were adopted in 2010 – Rule 1.15(g).
  • Providing a few “dos” and “don’ts” for management of a trust account – Rule 1.15(b)(4).
  • Updating other provisions and comments to track similar changes to the ABA Model Rule.

Comments should be submitted to Mark Gifford, Bar Counsel, on or before May 27, 2016.

CLICK HERE to download the proposed amendments.

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