Clients’ Protection Fund Board
Barry J. Dorans, chair
The Clients' Protection Fund was established in 1976 to make monetary awards to persons who have suffered financial losses because of the dishonest conduct of Virginia lawyers. The thirteen lawyers and one nonlawyer investigate petitions seeking payment from the fund, and the board discusses and acts on each petition.
In the fiscal year ended 2008 the board received 184 petitions, and in FY 2009 the board received 211 petitions, compared to an average of fewer than 50 in 2006 and 2007. Approximately 170 of the petitions stated claims for losses caused by Stephen Thomas Conrad, who settled personal injury claims, failed to inform the clients that their cases had settled, and stole the proceeds.
Claims regarding Mr. Conrad total more than $5 million. Because the fund has a rule limiting payments for one lawyer, the total payout for claims regarding Mr. Conrad will be $411,165. Since the board decided to prorate all the claims and pay each claimant the same percentage of the approved claim, it was necessary to evaluate the merits of all the claims before authorizing any payout. The board hopes to be able to send the payments to petitioners whose claims are approved by the end of the calendar year 2009. The board members should be commended for their efforts in keeping up with its dramatically larger caseload.
The fund’s balance as of July 1, 2008 was $4,064,602. The fund ended the fiscal year on June 30, 2009 with a balance of $4,794,394.
The board began fiscal year 2009 with one new member. Peter M. Mellette of Williamsburg was appointed to represent the sixth disciplinary district. Board member Laurie L. Dolson completed her service on the board after serving two terms.