Fee Collection and IOLTA - Practice Resource Center


Bryan Sims' guides show you step by step how to maintain client trust accounts using QuickBooks 2012 Professional and GnuCash. They are free to ISBA members.


Attorney Fees



  • Real Property, December 2016

    Internet fraud schemes are increasingly targeting lawyers and law firms and the banks where lawyers have their client trust accounts.

  • Matthew Hector
    Illinois Bar Journal, June 2015

    Unidentified funds rattling around in your IOLTA account? Effective next month, amendments to Illinois Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.15 make it easier to dispose of them.

  • Matthew Hector
    Illinois Bar Journal, March 2015

    Since 2011, banks have been required to report IOLTA-account overdrafts to the Illinois ARDC. The resulting investigations often uncover bookkeeping mistakes that get lawyers into trouble.

  • Mark S. Mathewson
    Illinois Bar Journal, September 2014

    Make sure retainer-fee payments by credit card are going into your trust account and not your general office account, an ISBA ethics opinion admonishes.

  • Helen W. Gunnarsson
    Illinois Bar Journal, September 2011

    The amended rule forbids non-interest bearing pooled accounts, imposes new recordkeeping requirements, and obliges banks to report trust-account overdrafts.


  • Colleen L. Sahlas
    Real Property, April 2011

    Avoid risks and take the simple step of collecting a retainer up front.

  • David A. Berek
    Fred R. McMorris
    Illinois Bar Journal, May 2008

    Consult Dowling for guidance on fee arrangements and how to describe them in engagement letters.

  • Willis R. Tribler
    Glenn Fischer
    Bench & Bar, February 2008

    The Supreme Court of Illinois has examined and clarified two kinds of retainer payments to lawyers.Dowling v. Chicago Options Associates, Inc., 226 Ill.2d 277, 875 N.E.2d 1012 (2007). 

  • Helen W. Gunnarsson
    Illinois Bar Journal, December 2007

    Learn how to craft retainer agreements to define and clarify the scope of your engagement, why it’s important to collect fees up front, and more.

  • John B. Kincaid
    Trial Briefs, March 2006

    Contrary to the popular misconception of many attorneys and judges, including this writer, Illinois has, since 1889, recognized and enforced the right of an attorney to retain his physical file until the client has paid for his services. 

ISBA Advisory Opinions on Professional Conduct

  • 94-06 Interest charged to client
  • 93-17, 88-15 Payment from client trust account
  • 92-13 Suit to collect
  • 92-09 Securing loan for client
  • 88-04 Deduction of fee from settlement
  • 87-10 Charging interest on delinquent accounts
  • 86-08 Collection of delinquent accounts/using letterhead
  • 722 Non-refundable fees for legal services

Other Resources

Have a suggestion for a practice resource? Please email Mark Mathewson.

These resources are presented as educational resources for for ISBA members. They should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual legal research, and the ISBA does not warrant the accuracy of the information that appears in them.