In 1981, the Illinois State Bar Association and The Chicago Bar Association incorporated the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois as a not-for-profit corporation. Two years later, the Lawyers Trust Fund became the beneficiary and administrator of the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program by order of the Supreme Court of Illinois. The IOLTA program allows interest to be earned on nominal or short-term client deposits held in lawyers' pooled trust accounts. Prior to Illinois' IOLTA rule, banks paid no interest on these client trust accounts. Lawyers have never been allowed to benefit from the property they hold in trust for their clients, and it is not cost-effective for financial institutions to pay interest on the funds of each individual client. With IOLTA, the interest that was previously retained by financial institutions is paid directly to the Lawyers Trust Fund and used for the following purposes: to contribute funds for providing civil legal assistance to the poor throughout Illinois; and for such other programs for the benefit of the public as are specifically approved by the Supreme Court of Illinois for exclusively public purposes.
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