by Brian Mahany
While everyone makes mistakes from time to time (including attorneys), civilized society has no room for thieves. This is especially true for lawyers who take an oath of office to uphold justice. Earlier today, the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund For Client Protection Committee announced that 17 victims were receiving checks from the state to reimburse them for some of their losses.This process is repeated throughout the United States every month.
Most lawyers carry malpractice insurance to cover them in case they make an error. Missing a deadline, filing the wrong form or trying to practice in an unfamiliar area of law are frequently the cause of malpractice claims. Insurance, however, does not cover outright fraud or theft.
Fortunately, most states have a client protection fund for such events. Typically the size of the payments that can be made is quite limited. That means that a $500,000 loss may only yield a $20,000 check.
The cases announced in Wisconsin today almost all involve fees charged to clients but for which no work done. When a lawyer simply takes the money and runs, that is considered theft. One of the lawyers in today’s announcement also is alleged to have taken money from an estate. Stealing from the dead, in other words.
Typically when a state client protection fund pays a claim, the lawyer is not long for the profession. Stealing and fraud can get you disbarred. Making a costly mistake, however, usually doesn’t mean the lawyer’s license to practice law is effected.
Unfortunately, very few lawyers are willing to handle legal malpractice cases. Often the defendant is friends with lawyers in the area. While no one obviously wants to be labeled as a thief, sadly many lawyers also don’t want a reputation for suing colleagues.
If a lawyer has botched your case, contact a legal malpractice lawyer right away. Very often malpractice insurance companies won’t renew the lawyer’s policy if they know a lawyer is having problems. By waiting, you may find the insurance is gone or already claimed by another victim.
If you think your lawyer has stolen from you or done something illegal, contact the state bar. There may be a client security fund that can provide some relief.
The legal malpractice lawyers at Mahany & Ertl have represented victims (clients) of bad lawyers and accountants throughout the country. We are one of the few law firms willing to sue other professionals for malpractice. Often there is a code of silence within the profession. Not with us. If you feel like another lawyer, accountant, insurance agent or other professional has defrauded you or provided substandard service, give us a call. All inquiries are kept in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California. Legal malpractice services available in many jurisdictions.
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