Colorado Supreme Court
Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel
Promoting Professionalism. Protecting the Public.
Client protection fund passes $6
Earlier this year, the Attorneys’ Fund for Client Protection surpassed that amount in payments to those who lost money due to the dishonest conduct of a lawyer.
By JAMES CARLSON
The Attorneys’ Fund for Client Protection has surpassed $6 million in claims paid to those who lost money due to the dishonest conduct of a lawyer. To many of the nearly 900 claimants who have received compensation during the Fund’s 17 years, the payments were a lifeline at a stressful time in their lives.
“This will help out a lot!” one claimant responded when notified of the payment. “I can pay off my new attorney. Yay! So happy.”
For claimants, the Fund also represents a renewal of faith in a profession still perceived as dishonest. Since 1976, polling company Gallup has asked people to rate the ethical standards of various professions. Last year, the percentage who said attorneys had above average ethical standards was the highest it has been in a quarter century – a whopping 21 percent. While the legal profession has made strides in reversing its negative perception, there is still a lot of work to be done.
One of the biggest steps the Colorado profession has taken is recognizing when the public has been harmed by an attorney and trying to rectify it. A lot of that work is done through the Attorneys’ Fund for Client Protection. “The purpose of the [Fund],” the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure read, “is to promote public confidence in the administration of justice and the integrity of the legal profession …”
The Fund was established in 1998 and is managed by a Board of Trustees – five Colorado attorneys and two public members, all appointed by the Supreme Court and serving as volunteers without compensation. The Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel investigates all claims filed with the Fund, and the trustees then evaluate and pay claims.
In 2016 alone, the trustees have approved $189,000 based on 19 claims received by the Fund.
The Fund does not receive any governmental monies or tax dollars. Every active Colorado attorney contributes $25 to the Fund as a part of their annual registration fee. (The annual contribution was $40 per active attorney through January 2014, after which the Supreme Court decreased the annual assessment to $25.)
The trustees also seek restitution from attorneys whose dishonest conduct resulted in a payment to a claimant. Since its inception, the Fund has recovered $654,397.
If a client of yours lost money due to the dishonest conduct or a past attorney, please direct them to file a complaint with the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.
James Carlson is the Information Resources Coordinator for the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.