What Do I Do With a Missing Client’s Funds and File?

Uncertain. Under Louisiana Rule 1.15(a):

A lawyer shall hold property of clients or third persons that is in a lawyer’s possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer’s own property. Funds shall be kept in a separate account maintained in a bank or similar institution in the state where the lawyer’s office is situated, or elsewhere with the consent of the client or third person.

Milk Carton

If a lawyer holds trust funds (or other property) that belong to a client but the client is missing, the lawyer should make reasonable efforts to locate the client. If those efforts are fruitless after approximately five (5) years, the lawyer should consult the office of the State Treasurer as to the disposition of the client’s unclaimed property. Additional guidance is available on the LSBA website in a public opinion by the Association’s Ethics Advisory Service: LSBA Public Opinion 06-RPCC-009.

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