Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts

In 1984, the Washington Supreme Court created the Legal Foundation of Washington to manage the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. Today, IOLTA programs exist in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help fund nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal aid for low-income people.

The IOLTA program in Washington serves two purposes. First, it helps ensure that legal professionals — lawyers, limited practice officers (LPOs), and limited license legal technicians (LLLTs) — appropriately manage funds that belong to their clients. Secondly, it allows interest to be earned on nominal or short-term deposits held in client trust accounts, with the interest remitted directly to LFW for distribution to civil legal aid programs.

IOLTA revenue is impacted by national interest rates and economic activity. The chart below depicts LFW’s annual revenue from IOLTA since 1985: