These Leadership Banks are financial institutions that volunteer to provide increased interest, free of fees, for their Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA). Frequently asked questions.
IOLTA funds support civil legal aid, providing critical free legal assistance to vulnerable low-income Californians, including older adults and individuals at risk of abuse or living with a disability. Civil legal aid helps hundreds of thousands of individuals every year to stay in their homes, obtain restraining orders, and combat wage theft. IOLTA is a major source of funding for these services, but unfortunately, as many as 63 percent of low-income Californians will not receive all the help they need to resolve their legal issues due to insufficient resources.
Banking with a Leadership Bank will increase funding to close this gap in services, and the potential benefit to civil legal aid is dramatic: The State Bar could distribute an additional $17 million in civil legal aid funding in 2021 through the increased interest rates offered by Leadership Banks.
The State Bar recognizes the following financial institutions as Leadership Banks and encourages attorneys to consider one of these institutions when deciding where to deposit IOLTA funds in order to maximize their impact on civil legal aid across the state.
Participation in the program will greatly increase your financial institution’s visibility among attorneys and law firms in California. The State Bar of California will highlight Leadership Banks in its communications to attorneys and external stakeholders. Leadership Banks will be prominently listed on the State Bar’s website (with hyperlinks to these designated institutions) and in communications and publications related to IOLTA. The State Bar will encourage attorneys to bank with those institutions for their IOLTA client trust accounts. This publicity is solely for IOLTA products. The State Bar does not provide a general endorsement of any financial institution and will so state.
Financial institutions may list the Leadership Bank designation on their own websites and in marketing materials, using the Leadership Program logo to signal their participation in the program.
Any marketing of or other communication or publication by an institution regarding its participation in the State Bar’s Leadership Bank program must be limited to the fact that the institution has been recognized by the State Bar for paying higher rates on IOLTA accounts, resulting in increased funding of free legal services for those in need. Leadership Banks may not state or imply that the State Bar has endorsed them generally or made any other endorsements or representations about their products or services. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in expulsion from the program, withdrawal of the Leadership Bank designation, and withdrawal of all State Bar approval, endorsement, and connection.
Currently, over 73,000 attorneys in California hold approximately 49,000 IOLTA accounts with nearly $5 billion in assets. Many attorneys and law firms care about supporting and increasing the availability of free legal services to those who cannot afford them. Becoming a Leadership Bank could increase your financial institution’s market share by attracting business from these attorneys.
Making these changes may help with your financial institution’s obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act by helping families to stay in their homes and find economic stability and physical safety in their community. For more information about how IOLTA funds benefit individual clients as well as entire communities, see the most recent impact report identifying outcomes achieved by legal aid and life-changing impact of these services for low-income Californians.
Many financial institutions offer IOLTA accounts, but to use the title “Leadership Bank,” your financial institution must:
To become a Leadership Bank, complete the IOLTA Compliance form and check Option A. Return the form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions before enrolling, please email email@example.com or call 415-538-2252.
The Leadership Bank list will be updated as requests to join the program are received. Once you receive notification that your institution has been designated a Leadership Bank, you may start using the California State Bar Leadership Bank logo on your website and materials, in accordance with the guidelines outlined above.
 The State Bar’s endorsement of Leadership Banks is limited to their IOLTA products in recognition of the tangible impact that the Leadership Bank program has on the provision of civil legal aid. We do not provide general endorsements of any financial institution or their other products.