ACC Protests Higher Fees for Iowa’s In-house Counsel

ACC Position: 

By Kristi Holzer and Henry Marquard

Today, ACC and the Iowa Chapter protested a proposal that could raise fees for in-house lawyers from $25 per year to as much as $140. In a letter to the Iowa Supreme Court, we wrote that “the clients of in-house counsel will never benefit from the Client Security Trust Fund,” which will receive the extra money.

The clients of in-house lawyers are their employers, and they are sophisticated. These organizations know they can fire rogue in-house lawyers, not just from a specific case, but from a salaried job and livelihood. Not surprisingly, ACC has found no instances in any publicly available source where an employer of in-house counsel has tried to tap Iowa’s Client Security Trust Fund.

One group of Iowa’s in-house lawyers might even need to pay two or even three times more than other Iowa in-house lawyers. Iowa in-house lawyers who have law licenses from elsewhere and who have registered to practice in Iowa already pay a $200 fee. The proposal may force them to pay another $200, as well as a possible $200 after five years if they seek to obtain Iowa law licenses. Extracting such punitive fees from Iowa’s registered in-house lawyers serves no good purpose.

Iowa’s in-house lawyers already pay fees — to take the bar, to waive in to the state and to support the operations of the continued legal education commission. Those fees at least have some link to the professional development of in-house lawyers. Raising fees for the client trust fund won’t do that. We hope that the Iowa Supreme Court will agree that Iowa’s in-house lawyers should not serve as revenue sources to fund general programs that lack links to in-house counseling.

Kristi Holzer is the President of the Iowa Chapter of ACC, and Henry Marquard is a member of the Chapter’s Board of Directors.