Trust Accounts

Rule 1.14 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct is titled, “Safekeeping of Property,” and commonly referred to as the trust account rule.

Lawyers frequently come into the disciplinary system for trust account errors. Two Trust Account tips are: 1) reconcile your trust account monthly and 2) understand the difference between a true non-refundable retainer and an advanced fee.

Lawyers need to reconcile their trust account every month. Review bank statements every month and reconcile them with the check register. A general trust account ledger may be needed for proper reconciliation. Each client should also have an individual ledger. Excel is one program that may be helpful in establishing a reconciliation process each month.

State Bar Resource Guide: “A Lawyer’s Guide to Client Trust Accounts” and Law Practice Management Website

Please see the State Bar’s resource guide on trust accounts. Click here to download a printable copy of “A Lawyer’s Guide to Client Trust Accounts.”

Click here for the State Bar’s Law Practice Management website, which contains a brochure on how to set up a trust account.

Texas Bar Journal Article Regarding Non-Refundable Retainers

One of the frequent trust account errors made by lawyers is a failure to understand the concept of a non-refundable retainer. An article about non-refundable retainers, which was written by the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Senior Appellate Counsel, appeared in the 2012 Texas Bar Journal. Click here for the article.

Trust Account CLE

TexasBarCLE has several trust account CLE online options:

  • Ethical Concerns for Criminal Defense Attorneys Producing Client Contracts (online class / mp3)
    MCLE Credit: 1 hr (includes 1 hr ethics)

  • How to Properly Manage Your Client’s Funds and Trust Accounts (online class / mp3)
    MCLE Credit: 1 hr (includes 1 hr ethics)

  • Non Refundable Retainers: The Confusion Clarified at Last! (online class / mp3)
    MCLE Credit: 1 hr (includes 1 hr ethics)

Other Helpful Resources

The American Bar Association has published a number of books on Microsoft office for attorneys, including Excel. Clio, Tabs3, Bill4Time, CaseFox and PCLaw are other software options.