What is the New York Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection?
The Lawyers' Fund was established in 1982 to provide reimbursement to law clients who have lost money or property as a result of lawyer's dishonest conduct in the practice of law. The Lawyers' Fund is a remedy for law clients who cannot get reimbursement from the lawyer who caused the loss, or from insurance or other sources.

Who finances the Lawyers' Fund?
No tax dollars are used. The fund is financed by the 215,000 members of the legal profession in New York State through a registration fee required by law. Since 1982, upwards of $108 million in awards of reimbursement have been paid to deserving law clients.

Who administers the Lawyers' Fund?
A Board of Trustees appointed by the Court of Appeals, New York State's high court. There are seven Trustees who serve as a public service without compensation. Five Trustees are lawyers; two are business and community leaders.

What losses are covered by the Lawyers' Fund?
The Trustees may reimburse losses caused by the dishonest conduct of lawyers admitted to the practice of law in New York State, up to a maximum of $300,000 for each client loss.

"Dishonest conduct" means the wrongful taking of clients' money or other property, in the practice of law, after June 1, 1981. Clients must apply for reimbursement within two years after they discover their loss.

Typical losses covered include the theft of money from estates of dead clients; escrow funds in real property closing; settlements in personal injury actions; and money embezzled from clients in investment transactions.

Is there a time limit for filing claims?
Yes. Clients must apply for reimbursement within two years after they discover their loss.

How do I file a claim?
A client must complete and return an application for reimbursement. Application forms and other information is available from the fund's offices at 119 Washington Avenue, Albany, N.Y. 12210. Telephone 518/434-1935, 800/442-FUND.

There is no application fee, and clients are not required to be represented by counsel. Lawyers in New York State who help clients process applications with the fund do not charge a fee for those services.

Are other complaints required?
Yes. The misuse of client money or property is professional misconduct that generally results in disbarment from the practice of law. It is also a crime. A law client who accuses a lawyer of misusing money and property must report the loss to an Attorney Disciplinary (Grievance) Committee; and to the District Attorney in which the lawyer maintained law offices.

What is the claims process?
Each application is screened to see if the loss is eligible for reimbursement. Ineligible claims are dismissed promptly with an explanation why the loss cannot be reimbursed. Eligible claims are investigated and reports prepared for the Trustees. The Trustees meet four time each year to evaluate claims, and determine the amounts of reimbursement that will be allowed.

Losses are not generally reimbursed by the Trustees until a lawyer is disbarred by the New York court system. It's important that clients cooperate fully in all official investigations involving dishonesty in the practice of law.

How long does the claims process take?
The typical award is approved within seven months.

Where can I get more information?
The New York Lawyers' Fund
119 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12210
518/434-1935, 800/442-FUND.

Our e-mail address: info@nylawfund.org

New York State Lawyers Fund for Client Protection 1997-2005
All Rights Reserved



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