Client Trust Accounting Resources

The provided resources are organized into five categories: rules and statutes; publications and articles; forms; ethics opinions; and online videos. This page is not intended to be a comprehensive collection of client trust accounting resources.

Rules and statutes

These provisions relate to a lawyer's responsibilities in receiving, maintaining, and accounting for the funds of a client or a third party, including fees for legal services.

Publications and Articles

Client Trust Accounting Handbook

The trust accounting handbook is a practical guide created to assist attorneys comply with recordkeeping standards for client trust accounts that went into effect Jan. 1, 1993. The handbook includes:

  • a copy of the standards and statutes relating to an attorney's trust accounting requirements,
  • a step-by-step description of how to maintain a client trust account;
  • index of selected cases and opinions by topic; and
  • sample forms.

The handbook is currently only available online.

      Handbook on Client Trust Accounting for California Attorneys (pdf)



The following are State Bar forms for trust accounting and fee agreements:

The following are forms and templates not published by the State Bar of California. These links are provided as research resources but are not approved by the State Bar.

Ethics opinions

The following are State Bar and local California bar association ethics opinions relating to trust accounts:

  • CAL 1975-36: Ethical responsibilities involved in preserving the identity of trust account funds
  • CAL 1988-97: Lay signatory on the client trust account?
  • CAL 2002-159: Loan funds in an escrow account for legal fees
  • CAL 2005-169: Overdraft protection on client trust accounts
  • CAL 2006-171: Return withdrawn funds to the client trust account when client disputes the fee
  • CAL 2007-172: Accepting credit card payments from a client
  • CAL 2008-175: Client instructions regarding prior attorney’s lien
  • CAL 2009-177: Ethical obligations in enforcing charging liens
  • CAL 2013-187: Third party payors
  • LA 454 (1988): Ethical Responsibilities to Third Parties in Handling Trust Accounts
  • LA 484 (1995): Commingling of Client Trust Account Funds - no longer available on the LACBA website
  • LA 485 (1995): Client trust accounts - no longer available on the LACBA website
  • SF 1970-3: Use of Trustee Savings Account
  • SF 1973-14: Placement of Refundable Portion of Advance Fee
  • SF 1974-3: Confidentiality of Source of Funds
  • SF 1980-1: Placement of "Flat" or "Fixed"

Online audio and video resources

The following are online audio and video resources related to client trust accounting. Some are free informational videos from various sources and others are MCLE programs that can be found on the State Bar Online CLE website.

Informational videos

State Bar of California




The following are State Bar web pages with related information and resources:

Featured Resource

10-Minute Mentor: Understanding Attorney Client Trust Accounts


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Got Client Trust Accounting Questions?

For questions concerning IOLTA, contact:
State Bar of California

For questions concerning client trust accounting rules and standards, contact:
Ethics Hotline
800-238-4427 (toll-free in California)
415-538-2150 (from outside California)