FDIC insurance coverage set to change Jan. 1 for IOLTA accounts

Unless Congress takes unanticipated action, as of Jan. 1, 2013, FDIC insurance available to IOLTA accounts will be $250,000 per owner of the funds (client), per financial institution, assuming that the account is properly designated as a trust account and proper accounting of each client’s funds is maintained. Non-interest-bearing trust accounts will have this same level of coverage.

IOLTA and non-interest-bearing accounts currently have unlimited FDIC insurance coverage pursuant to Section 343 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which has a sunset date of Dec. 31, 2012.

For more information, please visit http://www.abanow.org/2012/12/fdic-insurance-coverage-to-change-for-iolta-and-non-interest-bearing-accounts/.

Westwood High School Choir

Westwood High School Choir students performed for State Bar staff at the Texas Law Center today.


Random Profile: Chris Peterson, Bryan

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 93,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next? 

Chris PetersonBest thing about being a lawyer: It opens doors and it gives you the opportunity to help folks that need it.

If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be? I would love to be a CEO for a major corporation or a leader of a country, but I can’t think of a single person.

Most important career lesson: Build a strong referral network and manage your costs. 

Favorite food: You can’t beat my grandmother’s apple pie or a good Chicago-style hot dog.

Favorite TV program: Sportscenter & anything on Food Network.

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New reporting procedure for expunctions

The Texas Data Exchange (TDEx) Bureau, which was created to administer the TDEx system and all related matters, is no longer managed by the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management. Attorneys who represent clients with records due to be expunged should send all correspondence for TDEx, including expunction information, to the Texas Department of Public Safety via mail, e-mail, or fax to the contact information provided below:

PO Box 4143
Attn: TDEx
Austin 78765-4143



Visit the Texas Department of Public Safety website for more information.


The State Bar of Texas tree ornament and recently reduced store merchandise!

The holidays are right around the corner and with that comes tree-trimming parties and a lot of gift giving! Why not pick up one of our beautiful green and gold State Bar of Texas ornaments? Or give an item such as a coffee tumbler or a set of coasters with the State Bar of Texas seal elegantly embossed? Stop by our website and discover the new prices in store!

San Antonio Bar Association community service project - the trial of Santa Claus

Don’t Miss the Arrest of Santa Claus at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 At James Bonham Academy!

Santa Claus will be arrested at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, at James Bonham Academy, 925 South St. Mary’s St. Santa Claus, who will be giving out Christmas presents, will be charged with violation of a statute concerning separation of Church and State.

Santa Claus will be arrested for violation of this statute and led away in handcuffs by members of the San Antonio Police Department. Repeatedly Santa Claus has appeared at local schools giving gifts in violation of this statute. This is the nineteenth year in a row that Santa has been arrested for violation of the statute. Each time in the past, Santa Claus has beaten the charge, due to skillful representation of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts that make up his defense team. It helps that the jury was composed of fourth graders from James Bonham Academy.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at 9:00 a.m., Santa Claus (a/k/a Kris Kringle) will be tried in the Federal Courthouse in front of the Honorable Judge Edward C. Prado for violation of this statute. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will make up both the prosecution and the defense teams. The jury will be selected from fourth graders from James Bonham Academy. This is different version of “Miracle on 34th Street” with an unusual twist.

If Santa Claus is found to be competent (this Santa Claus actually believes reindeer can fly), Santa clearly violated the statute and will probably be convicted. Santa may spend this Christmas in jail!

If Santa Claus is acquitted and is found competent, then a Christmas party will occur at the Federal Training Center across the patio in front of the John H. Wood Jr. Courthouse.

The Trial of Santa Claus is a community services project of the United States District Court Committee, San Antonio Bar Association, in conjunction with Boy Scout Troop 285, Girl Scout Troops 887 and 705 and James Bonham Academy.

San Antonio Bar Association
Contact: Ted Lee at 210-886-9500

TYLA hosts night out for battered women

The Texas Young Lawyers Association hosted “Ladies Night Out” for the Bastrop battered women’s shelter on Monday evening. Women were treated to dinner and pampered by hair and make-up consultants. The women viewed TYLA’s Healing the Wounds video, which discusses what victims of domestic violence can expect when utilizing the courts. TYLA President C.E. Rhodes, President-elect Kristy Piazza Blanchard, and directors Dustin Howell and Sally Pretorius (pictured right) gave legal advice and answered questions on obtaining a protective order and filing a temporary restraining order. The goal of the program is to educate victims of family violence about their legal rights. For more information on TYLA or to view the video, visit tyla.org.

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Acosta sworn in as Court of Criminal Appeals Clerk

Abel Acosta was sworn in on Monday as clerk of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Acosta, an Andrews native, began working at the court in 1990 and was promoted to chief deputy clerk in 1999.

Boyd Sworn in as Texas Supreme Court Justice

Jeffrey S. Boyd took the oath of office Monday to become the newest member of the Texas Supreme Court. Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson administered the oath, and Boyd’s wife, Jackie, held the Bible.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Boyd to fill the position vacated by Justice Dale Wainwright, who resigned to practice law in the private sector. Boyd is Perry’s former chief of staff and also has served as general counsel for the Governor’s Office.

He is a former senior partner in the Austin office of Thompson and Knight, L.L.P., and served as deputy attorney general for civil litigation. Boyd, a past member of the State Bar of Texas Taskforce on Court Administration, is a graduate of Round Rock High School, Abilene Christian University and the Pepperdine University School of Law.

Random Profile: Vivian Gathright, Houston

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 93,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next? 

Best thing about being a lawyer: The ability to use my skills to eradicate
injustice - that is, to use my skills as much as possible to keep America as the land of the free and the amazing home for the poor and weary souls.

Bet you didn’t know: I have a strong desire to get more intimately involved with politics. 

Another little known fact: I was the main kicker for my powder puff football team with the FBIHQ. I shoot a mean three-pointer in basketball.  

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Important information for lawyers who accept credit card payments

Changes in the law regarding the reporting of credit card transactions have the potential to negatively affect IOLTA accounts.

Pursuant to the Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008, credit card processing companies are required to verify and match each merchant’s federal tax identification number and his or her legal name with those found on file with the IRS. An exact match is required.

For the purposes of this requirement, lawyers who accept credit card payments are considered “merchants.”

If there is not an exact match between the information provided to the credit card processing company and the information on file with the IRS, there could be serious consequences, including:

  • Beginning January 2013, the IRS will impose a 28 percent withholding penalty on all credit card transactions, including those that the lawyer directs to his or her IOLTA account, and
  • If client funds that should be in the IOLTA account are withheld due to the lawyer’s failure to act and thus are not available to the client on demand, ethical issues could be raised.

Credit card processing companies should have received information from the IRS if a mismatch occurred and already notified the lawyer of the problem. However, it is not known if all processing companies have provided such notice. Here are steps lawyers can take now to avoid potential ethical issues:

  • Contact the credit card processor to determine that a match occurred.
  • Correct mismatches if informed of one.

For more information on this issue, see https://www.lawpay.com/news/irs6050w.pdf

From the National Organization of Bar Counsel