New Rule Change for Attorneys in Wisconsin
By: Claude Ducloux
Board Certified, Civil Trial Law and Civil Appellate Law
Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Director of Education, LawPay
On July 1, 2016, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin granted additional options for accepting client payments via credit, debit, and electronic payments (ACH). Lawyers may continue to operate stand-alone, traditional IOLTA accounts, with the additional option of accepting remote deposits, provided certain record-keeping requirements are met.
You can read about the new options per SCR 20:1.15 here.
Additionally, Wisconsin lawyers who have been accepting credit and debit cards may also choose to create two more electronic accounts:
1. Meet the EBTA: Wisconsin lawyers can create a new E-Banking Trust Account (EBTA), which replaces the Credit Card Trust Account (CCTA) previously available. The new EBTA is more versatile than the CCTA, allowing both electronic deposits and electronic trust fund disbursements. The new rule provides specific instructions on changing the CCTA to the newer EBTA. And just like the CCTA, lawyers must maintain a traditional “primary” IOLTA account, and the lawyer may transfer necessary funds between these accounts remotely. However, funds deposited into an EBTA must generally be transferred within 3 days of confirmation, either to the lawyer whose fees have been earned, or to the traditional account, if the funds are not yet earned.
With the EBTA, costs related to fee transfers are the responsibility of the lawyer, but the client may be responsible for electronic transfer fees for other case expenses, upon proper disclosure and written authorization from the client.
2. The All-In-One IOLTA: Wisconsin lawyers may also now create the “All-In-One IOLTA,” which allows the Lawyer to open a single IOLTA account for checking and electronic transactions. The All-In-One can handle deposits from credit cards, debit cards, and ACH payments so long as the depositor is prohibited from withdrawing funds with the lawyer’s permission. Like deposits, distributions may also be by electronic transfer.
The new rule does require a lawyer using the “All-In-One” to secure either a bond or a crime insurance policy to cover losses due to theft, including Cyber-scams.
No matter which method a Wisconsin lawyer chooses, LawPay meets your needs. We guarantee complete separation of earned and unearned fees, giving you the confidence and peace of mind that your transactions are always handled the right way. Not only are your funds separated correctly, but we also legally protect the attorney trust account from all third-party access. No debits are allowed from your IOLTA at any time, for any reason. Processing fees are only debited from your operating account once a month.
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