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VLW IOLTA Poll: Majority backs change

Earlier this month, Virginia Lawyers Weekly featured a Web poll asking our readers what they thought of the proposal to reestablish mandatory IOLTA in the commonwealth.

Sixty-seven respondents weighed in, a 74.6 percent majority favoring the repeal of a 1995 statute that has allowed lawyers to decide whether their client trust accounts will bear interest, with that money going to legal aid.

Most of the poll takers were lawyers working either as solo practitioners or in a small to medium firm. Nearly 80 percent said they were already participating in the IOLTA program.

The debate over mandatory IOLTA doesn’t appear to have the same resonance it did 18 years ago, when the issue was first brought to the table. In 1993, Virginia Lawyers Weekly conducted a poll which lit up the fax machine with 930 responses. At the time, an overwhelming 83 percent of respondents opposed the idea.

Despite the outcry, the Supreme Court of Virginia approved the mandatory program in 1993. Two years later, then-Del. Glenn Croshaw, D-Virginia Beach, filed a number of voluntary IOLTA bills that ultimately passed the Assembly.

In this year’s session, delegates introduced two bills aimed at restoring mandatory participation. Last week, House Bill 1571 was defeated in a subcommittee vote.
Senate Bill 817
comes before the Senate courts committee this afternoon, according to a Legal Services Corp. of Virginia official.

The full results of VLW’s 2011 IOLTA poll are available here.

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