Using CD-ROM Digital Check Images for Trust Account Records
Opinion rules that retaining a CD-ROM with digital images of trust account checks that is provided by the depository bank satisfies record-keeping requirements for trust accounts.
Rule 1.15-3(a)(2) of the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a lawyer must keep minimum records for a trust account that include either original canceled checks or "printed digital images thereof furnished by the bank." C Banks, Inc. currently provides to its customers a CD-ROM that contains digital images of the fronts and backs of checks. Once downloaded to a computer, the check images can be viewed on a computer monitor and printed. There are protections against recording on or tampering with the digital images on the CD-ROM. If tampering or counterfeiting of the digital images is suspected, the images or printed copies thereof can be compared to the original check images retained by C Banks, Inc. C Banks, Inc. can provide the canceled checks to lawyers but prefers to provide the CD-ROM.
Some lawyers with trust accounts at C Banks are concerned that the CD-ROM does not satisfy Rule 1.15-3(a)(2). If a lawyer receives only the CD-ROM, is the lawyer in compliance with the record keeping requirements of Rule 1.15-3(a)(2)?
The CD-ROM satisfies the record keeping requirements of Rule 1.15-3(a)(2) because digital images of the checks can be retrieved from the CD-ROM and printed when necessary. (The CD-ROM also satisfies the minimum records requirements for dedicated trust accounts and fiduciary accounts set forth in Rule 1.15-3(b)(2).) See also G.S. §66-322(e) and G.S. §66-323.