Client Assistance Fund
The Client Assistance Fund was created to compensate clients who lose money due to a lawyer's dishonest conduct. The Fund can reimburse clients up to $25,000 for thefts by a lawyer. It covers money or property lost because a lawyer was dishonest (not because the lawyer acted incompetently or failed to take certain action). To qualify for the fund, clients must be able to show that the money or property came into the lawyer's hands. The fund does not pay interest nor does it pay for any damages done as a result of losing your money.
The fund will reimburse fees only in limited cases. If the lawyer did no work, fees may be covered by the fund. Fees are not reimbursable simply because you are dissatisfied with the services or because work was not completed.
Almost anyone who has lost money due to a lawyer's dishonesty can apply for reimbursement. You do not have to be a United States citizen. However, if you are the spouse or other close relative of the lawyer in question, or the lawyer's business partner, employer or employee, or a business controlled by the lawyer, the fund will not pay you reimbursement. Also, the fund will not reimburse for losses suffered by government entities or agencies.
The Client Assistance Fund Committee decides whether you qualify for reimbursement from the fund, and, if so, whether part or all of your application will be paid. The committee is not obligated to pay any claim. Disbursements from the fund are at the sole discretion of the committee. The committee is made up of volunteer lawyers who investigate all claims.
Because the Client Assistance Fund Committee requires proof that the lawyer dishonestly took your money or property, you should register a complaint against the lawyer with the lawyer discipline system, if you have not already done so. The Disciplinary Counsel's office will investigate your complaint. To make a complaint with the Disciplinary Counsel's office or to obtain a complaint form: write the following
4000 South Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite 607
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816-4388
Web Site: www.ladb.org
Also, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit or criminal charges against the lawyer. The Louisiana State Bar Association cannot provide legal advice, so you should consult a new lawyer or the district attorney's office about these matters. If you do not know a lawyer who can help, call the Lawyer Referral service in your area. These services are listed in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory. There are deadlines for starting this process.
The Client Assistance Fund process is simple and free and there is staff to assist you. You do not need a lawyer to apply but you may consult one if you wish.
The above information is issued to inform and provide general information, not to advise. If you have a specific legal problem you should no try to apply or interpret the law without the aid of a trained expert who knows the facts because the facts may change the application of the law.
Application for Relief Form
The Client Assistance Fund
Cheri Cotogno Grodsky
601 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70130-3427
(504)566-1600 or (800)421-5722, ext. 107.