RPC 1.15B: REQUIRED TRUST ACCOUNT RECORDS

(a) A lawyer must maintain current trust account records. They may be in electronic or manual form and must be retained for at least seven years after the events they record. At minimum, the records must include the following:

(1) Checkbook register or equivalent for each trust account, including entries for all receipts, disbursements, and transfers, and containing at least: (i) identification of the client matter for which trust funds were received, disbursed, or transferred; (ii) the date on which trust funds were received, disbursed, or transferred; (iii) the check number for each disbursement; (iv) the payor or payee for or from which trust funds were received, disbursed, or transferred; and (v) the new trust account balance after each receipt, disbursement, or transfer;

(2) Individual client ledger records containing either a separate page for each client or an equivalent electronic record showing all individual receipts, disbursements, or transfers, and also containing: (i) identification of the purpose for which trust funds were received, disbursed, or transferred; (ii) the date on which trust funds were received, disbursed or transferred; (iii) the check number for each disbursement; (iv) the payor or payee for or from which trust funds were received, disbursed, or transferred; and (v) the new client fund balance after each receipt, disbursement, or transfer;

(3) Copies of any agreements pertaining to fees and costs;

(4) Copies of any statements or accountings to clients or third parties showing the disbursement of funds to them or on their behalf;

(5) Copies of bills for legal fees and expenses rendered to clients;

(6) Copies of invoices, bills or other documents supporting all disbursements or transfers from the trust account;

(7) Bank statements, copies of deposit slips, and cancelled checks or their equivalent;

(8) Copies of all trust account bank and client ledger reconciliations; and

(9) Copies of those portions of clients' files that are reasonably necessary for a complete understanding of the financial transactions pertaining to them.

(b) Upon any change in the lawyer's practice affecting the trust account, including dissolution or sale of a law firm or suspension or other change in membership status, the lawyer must make appropriate arrangements for the maintenance of the records specified in this Rule.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2006; amended effective December 10, 2013.]

Washington Comments

[1] Paragraph (a)(3) is not intended to require that fee agreements be in writing. That issue is governed by Rule 1.5.

[2] If trust records are computerized, a system of regular and frequent (preferably daily) back-up procedures is essential.

[3] Paragraph (a)(9) does not require a lawyer to retain the entire client file for a period of seven years, although many lawyers will choose to do so for other reasons. Rather, under this paragraph, the lawyer must retain only those portions of the file necessary for a complete understanding of the financial transactions. For example, if a lawyer received proceeds of a settlement on a client's behalf, the lawyer would need to retain a copy of the settlement agreement. In many cases, there will be nothing in the client file that needs to be retained other than the specific documents listed in paragraphs (a)(2)-(8).

[Comment adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

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