LAW FIRM REPORTING
Trust Accounts, Malpractice Insurance and Pro Bono Information
Supreme Court Rule 756 requires lawyers to report malpractice insurance, trust account and pro bono information as part of the annual registration process. Since members of a firm usually maintain the same malpractice insurance and trust accounts and often have pro bono monetary contributions submitted on their behalf, this data can be efficiently reported in the aggregate on behalf of the entire firm. To make use of Firm Reporting, law firms must obtain a firm ID number from the ARDC and must submit yearly updates of malpractice insurance, trust account and pro bono information.
Important Note: Firm Reporting does not eliminate the need for submitting a separate registration form for every attorney. Firm reporting simply makes it possible to submit aggregate trust account, malpractice insurance and pro bono information, thus making it significantly easier to complete the individual registration forms.
Obtaining a Firm ID Number
Firms who have not yet been assigned a firm ID number must send a written request to the Registration Department. In said request, the firm must designate a Firm Agent; i.e., an individual that will be responsible for submitting the firm’s aggregate report. Additionally, a complete attorney roster must be submitted with the request so that we can associate the firm’s attorneys with the firm data. Requests for a firm ID number can be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to:
Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission
130 East Randolph, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
The Firm ID number is permanent and can be used year after year. If the firm wishes to change its Firm Agent, a written notification must be sent by e-mail or by mail.
Completion of Firm Report
The Firm Report must be submitted on company letterhead and must be signed by the Firm Agent. This document should state the Firm ID number and contain the following three sections:
Malpractice Insurance This section must indicate whether the firm has malpractice insurance as of the date of submission and, if so, the coverage dates for the policy. (Please do not send in malpractice insurance policy documents. Please keep them for a period of 7 years.)
Trust Accounts If the firm has not submitted a Firm Report in the past, this section must identify whether the firm maintains one or more trust accounts to hold property of clients or third persons and, if so, include for each account: 1) the name of the financial institution, 2) the account number, 3) the account name, and 4) whether the account is an IOLTA account (click here for Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois). If the firm does not maintain a trust account, an explanation must state why not.
If the firm submitted trust account information using a Firm Report in the previous year, the Firm Agent should review that information and state whether it remains valid and accurate, or if appropriate, note any changes; e.g., any accounts that have been opened or closed or any changes in the name of an account or financial institution.
If the firm did not retain a copy of its previous Firm Report, it may contact the registration department via email at email@example.com or by mail. Due to confidentiality considerations, the ARDC will only release such information to the Firm Agent via mail.
Pro Bono Monetary Contributions If the firm made any monetary contributions to organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means or that contribute financial support to such an organization, that amount should be stated in this section. The calculation period should be the 12-month period immediately preceding the registration submission.
Alternatively, if appropriate, the firm can divide the total firm contribution amount across multiple attorneys, so that each attorney or several attorneys will report portions of the firm total on their individual forms.
Important Note: Each individual attorney must complete the entire pro bono section (questions 3-4) of the registration form even if the firm submits aggregate pro bono data using firm reporting. Please see the following section for more information.
Completion of Individual Registration Forms
A separate registration form must be submitted for each attorney even if the firm is employing Firm Reporting. However, attorneys need not provide malpractice insurance and trust account information if this is being provided by the firm.
Important Note: Each individual attorney must complete the entire pro bono section (questions 3-4) of the registration form even if the firm submits aggregate pro bono data using firm reporting. The following instructions apply:
If an attorney has made an individual pro bono monetary contribution, the attorney should list that contribution on his or her registration form. This is true even if the firm has also made a contribution on behalf of its attorneys.
If an attorney has not made an individual pro bono monetary contribution and is being included with the firm’s pro bono contribution, the attorney must answer yes to question 4 and report a total contribution of $1.00 in question 4a. (Note: We will not count the $1 amount in our aggregate totals. The inclusion of the $1 amount will allow our system to process the registration properly.)
If the attorney has not made a pro bono monetary contribution and has not been credited for any firm contribution, the attorney should answer “no” and leave the amount field blank.
Each attorney must also sign the top of page one of the individual registration form. By signing the individual forms, the attorneys are adopting the malpractice, trust account and pro bono monetary contribution information provided by the Firm Agent.
Submission of the Firm Report, Individual Forms and Payment
The Firm Report and the individual signed attorney registration forms must be submitted along with a check covering the firm's aggregate registration fees. The check should be made payable to 'ARDC' or 'Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission'.
The Firm Agent should mail this documentation and the check to the following address:
PO Box 19436
Springfield, IL 62794
If you have any questions, please contact the Registration Department at (312) 565-2600, or from within Illinois, at (800) 826-8625, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLEASE NOTE: Rule 756(f) and an amendment to Rule 766 provide that information reported pursuant to this rule will be deemed confidential and that the information can be reported publicly only in the aggregate. An aggregate report allows the legal profession in Illinois to inform the public and Illinois policy makers about the actual scope of the voluntary contributions of Illinois lawyers to pro bono legal services. Neither that goal nor the stated purpose of the reporting obligation require the ARDC to retain the capacity to link the information to individual lawyers except to verify that each lawyer has made the report, and the ARDC will not link the information to individual lawyers except for that purpose. Thus, it should not matter who makes the report of firm contributions. However, for purposes of the accuracy of the aggregate information, it is important that contributions be reported only once, either by the firm or by an individual attorney in the firm or by several attorneys reporting portions of the contribution.