See a legal malpractice attorney. They can advise you of all your options. Good luck.
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Call your state bar. it likly has a viable lawyers' fund for client protection is the hub of any client protection system. These funds arose in response to the bar's unwillingness to leave clients harmed by lawyer theft without a remedy. Thus, lawyers fund awards are made by court appointed trustees to replace money misappropriated within a client lawyer relationship. All lawyers are besmirched by the wrongdoing of a few and all lawyers benefit a their fund takes care of the injured clients. This is the basis upon which lawyers financially support the fund, rather than relying on insurance to cover a shared risk. The assumption is that the vast majority of lawyers do not pose any risk whatever to Client Protection Funds, and that assumption is borne out by experience.
However few their numbers may be, dishonest lawyers can cause significant loss. Rather than simply reimbursing after the fact, jurisdictions sought mechanisms to limit losses, thus protecting the public without fund expenditures. The second rule presented, the Model Rules for Trust Account Overdraft Notification, is an excellent example. If a trust account check is returned for insufficient funds, one of two things has occurred: (a) either the lawyer or the bank has made a simple mistake or (b) the lawyer is out of trust. Situation (a) can be readily demonstrated and easily forgotten, but situation (b) is as relevant a red flag to the system as can be imagined. The rule's concept is that disciplinary counsel receives a notice of dishonor simultaneously with notice to the bank's customers and the payees of the checks. There is very little burden to the bank, to the lawyer, or to disciplinary counsel, while the occasional early warning can be expected to save the system more money than the program costs.
Lawyers do not always understand the special requirements of trust accounting and financial recordkeeping inherent in a sound practice of law. The Model Rule on Financial Recordkeeping is intended to help in this regard. Lawyers deserve an opportunity to know what is expected; they should not have to look beyond the rule for the fundamental principles. Lawyers can only benefit if such a rule is supplemented by courses in law school and continuing legal education programs, with sample sets of books and practical manuals made available as well.
How can the system ensure that lawyers understand the requirements of financial recordkeeping and are engaging in sound trust accounting practice? One way is the fourth rule presented, the Model Rules for Random Audit of Lawyer Trust Accounts. While most random audits conclude as purely educational, occasionally a lawyer who actively misappropriates from a trust account is discovered. Then, the random audit ceases and a disciplinary investigation ensues. In every other situation, no confusion should be permitted between random audits and audits for cause. Selection for the random audit program should be, as stated, purely random. No stigma whatever should attach to selection for audit.
When a third party liability claim is settled, the client/claimant should not be the last to know. This is the basis for the Model Rule for Payee Notification, which is usually enacted either as an insurance regulation or a statute. It requires carriers to notify clients when payments of settlements are made to clients' lawyers or other representatives. The notice should be brief, plain and inexpensive to produce.
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