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The North Carolina State Bar's
Trust Account Handbook


On a daily basis, a lawyer in private practice receives, holds and disburses money that belongs to the lawyer's clients and to third parties in conjunction with the representation of clients. Millions of dollars flow through the hands of lawyers while serving clients, making the handling of client funds one of the most significant fiduciary obligations of lawyers to their clients. To reduce the possibility of theft, misappropriation or mishandling of client funds, the North Carolina State Bar established trust accounting standards in Rules 1.15 of the Rules of Professional Conduct and implemented a program of random audits of lawyers' trust accounts. This handbook explains the requirements for segregating, safekeeping, and record keeping for client funds, and how the random audit program works. The purpose of the handbook is to answer questions about establishing a trust account, deposits and disbursements from a trust account, record keeping for a trust account, and what to expect when you are selected for audit by the State Bar auditor. If the handbook fails to answer your specific question, please contact the State Bar for further assistance.

Lawyer's Trust Account Handbook (revised November 2017)


The handbook contains legal information, not legal advice. While the State Bar will make every effort to update the manual as necessary, it is the responsibility of the member to make sure that they are following the most current version of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Nothing contained in the handbook is intended to address any specific inquiry, nor is it a substitute for independent legal research to original sources or for obtaining the advice of legal counsel with respect to legal problems.

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