A rule change governing legal clients' funds made by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2015 has generated more than $1 million for legal help for the poor. The court adjusted a rule dealing with unidentified funds in pooled client trust accounts handled by lawyers.
Lawyers who cannot identify the owners of the funds after 12 months turn them over to the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois.
Mark Marquardt is executive director of the Lawyers Trust Fund. He says there are 1.8 million people living in poverty in Illinois. Subsidized legal aid is their only option when confronting the judicial system.
Multiple clients in legal matters often pool nominal amounts of money in an interest-bearing trust account. Interest on the accounts had previously helped finance legal aid.