During the fourth quarter of 2010, the New Jersey Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, funded by the state’s lawyers and judges, paid $836,484.44 to clients for losses caused by 12 lawyers, the Board of Trustees announced today in a release.
The fund’s purpose is to pay on behalf of the honest majority of lawyers for the wrongdoing of the few who are suspended or disbarred for misappropriation.
The fund was created by the New Jersey State Bar Association in 1961, with voluntary contributions from practicing lawyers as a commitment to high standards in the profession. In 1969, the Supreme Court established an annual attorney assessment that now generates about $3 million for the fund each year, according to the release.
In its 41-year history, the fund has paid claims against 652 attorneys, approximately three-quarters of one percent of the 87,639 lawyers currently licensed in New Jersey.
Seven trustees, five attorneys and two public members, administer the fund, serving staggered five-year terms without compensation. They are appointed by the Supreme Court to consider clients’ claims and make awards when it is determined that the loss was caused by dishonest lawyer conduct, under fund rules. Cases involving legal malpractice and negligence are handled through civil court actions and fee disputes through the District Fee Arbitration Committees established by the Supreme Court.
For a claim to be paid, the attorney against whom it is filed must have been a member of the bar, acting as either attorney or fiduciary, at the time of the incident; and unless deceased, must have been disbarred or suspended from the Bar, or convicted of embezzlement or other misappropriation of property.
Attached is a list of the fourth quarter claim awards and status of each attorney under the Supreme Court discipline system.