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new attorneys

The following is a step by step guide to complying with the IOLTA Rule (Rule 1:28A). This Rule applies to attorneys admitted to the Bar of New Jersey who must maintain attorney trust accounts pursuant to Rule 1:21-6.

First determine if Rule 1:28A applies to you. If it does, follow the steps outlined.


You must comply with the IOLTA Rule if:

  1. You are a sole practitioner.

  2. You are employed by a law firm of any size even if you are not a signatory on a trust account.

  3. You have a part time or occasional practice.

The IOLTA Rule does NOT apply if:

  1. You are employed as a government attorney and cannot, as a condition of employment, have a separate practice.

  2. You are employed as in house counsel to a corporation and cannot, as a condition of employment, have a separate practice.

  3. You are not practicing law.

  4. You are otherwise exempt from the requirements of R.1: 21-6 (i.e. not required to maintain a trust account).


  1. Even if you are not a signatory on a trust account, you must have a registered trust account. Usually, this trust account is maintained by the firm for the use of all of its attorneys.

  2. All law firms register their trust accounts annually with the IOLTA Fund and are asked to submit a list of all attorneys in the firm. These attorneys are then in compliance with Rule 1:28A. It is, however, the responsibility of individual attorneys to ensure that they are in compliance.

    You should check with the firm's administrator to be sure the firm has complied and that your name has been submitted as part of the firm. (If you join the firm after the forms have been submitted for the year, write us a letter on firm letterhead and tell us that you are now part of the firm.)

  3. If you prefer to check with us on the status of your firm's compliance with IOLTA, please call.

  4. If you are part of an out of state law firm that has a branch office in New Jersey, but you are not assigned to the New Jersey office, please call us.

STEPS FOR SOLE PRACTITIONERS (including part time and occasional practitioners):

  1. Establish a trust account in an approved trust account depository.

    Initially, this should be a non-interest bearing account. It is best not to discuss IOLTA requirements with your financial institution since not all personnel fully understand the IOLTA process. Do not open the trust account as an interest bearing IOLTA account.

  2. Contact the IOLTA Fund at 732-247-8222 or email us at to obtain the necessary forms for registering your account.

  3. Once the forms are received determine whether your trust account should be designated a Low Balance account or an IOLTA account. Both types of accounts must be registered with the IOLTA Fund.

Usually, trust accounts of new sole practitioners (and, almost always, those of part time and occasional practitioners) fall into IOLTA's low balance category. This means that the balance and activity in the account are low, and the accounts would cost the IOLTA Fund more in service charges than would be generated in interest. These accounts are NOT converted to interest bearing IOLTA accounts. You will be designated an inactive IOLTA participant until these circumstances change. (NOTE: If you are uncertain whether yours is a low balance account please call us.)

If your account falls into this category indicate this on the Registration Form and return the form to IOLTA. You will then be in compliance with Rule 1:28A. You must register your Low Balance account annually with the IOLTA Fund.

If you have determined that your trust account will have an adequate balance to earn enough interest for IOLTA, fill out the Participation Form and return it to the IOLTA Fund. The Fund's staff will then contact the bank to convert it to an interest bearing IOLTA account. You should NOT contact the bank about converting your account to IOLTA.

Once you have filed the Registration form and the Participation Form with the IOLTA Fund, you will be in compliance with Rule 1:28A. You must register your IOLTA account annually with the Fund.

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