All Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) members that hold client or third-party funds in connection with the practice of law must, except under certain circumstances, hold those funds in a pooled interest-bearing demand account with the interest earned being transferred to the Oklahoma Bar Foundation (OBF). This requirement applies to all client and third-party funds that are: (i) nominal in amount; or (ii) held for a short period of time.
The Oklahoma IOLTA program was first implemented by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 1983. Rule 1.15 of the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct was amended during 2004 to make participation in the IOLTA program mandatory for all OBA members and law firms that hold qualifying funds. Oklahoma IOLTA receipts are allocated by the OBF annually in the form of grant awards for the following purposes:
- To provide delivery of civil legal services to the poor and elderly;
- To promote quality education of the law and legal issues;
- To improve and promote the administration of justice and law-related programs for the benefit of the public, as are specifically approved by the OBF for exclusively public purposes
The Oklahoma IOLTA program in combination with other OBF funds have provided more ten million dollars of support, benefitting hundreds-of-thousands of families and individuals with free legal and advocacy services, and reaching thousands of children through the high school mock trial program and other legal-educational programs, thereby furthering the charitable mission of the Foundation and meeting needs throughout Oklahoma.