Informal Opinion Number: 20030001

Rules: 4-1.15
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Trust Accounts and Property of Others

Reference Note:  Effective January 1, 2019, Rule 4-1.15(c) was repealed and a new 4-1.15(c) was adopted.  Effective January 1, 2019, Comments [5] and [6] to 4-1.15 were repealed, and new Comments [5], [6], and [20] were adopted.  This opinion is based on Rule 4-1.15 in effect prior to that date.

Reference Note: Effective July 1, 2016, subdivision 4-1.15(f) of Rule 4 was repealed and a new subdivision 4-1.15(f) adopted in lieu thereof. This opinion is based on Rule 4-1.15 in effect prior to that date.

Reference Note:  Rule 4-1.15 was amended, effective July 1, 2013.  This opinion is based on the rule in effect prior to that date.  Please see the July 1, 2013 version of Rule 4-1.15.

QUESTION: Attorney is acting as a mediator. Attorney will ask for prepayment of fees. Attorney will be keeping the fees in a separate account until earned. Since attorney will not be providing legal representation or legal advice to the parties, is it proper for Attorney to hold the unearned funds in Attorney’s lawyer’s trust account?
ANSWER: It is permissible for Attorney to put the prepaid fees for the mediation in Attorney’s trust account, including an IOLTA account.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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