Public Resources

Clients’ Protection Fund

What is the clients’ protection fund?

The Virginia State Bar established the Clients’ Protection Fund to reimburse persons who suffer a financial loss because of dishonest conduct by a Virginia lawyer.

Watch the video! For more information about Virginia State Bar Clients’ Protection Fund, view the Virginia State Bar Video Brief.

Why was the fund created?

The lawyers of Virginia recognize that, despite the high standards of ethical conduct required of members of the Virginia State Bar, there are a small number of lawyers who are not worthy of the trust that others place in them. The bar has a strong disciplinary system for reprimanding, suspending or disbarring lawyers who violate the strict standards of Virginia’s ethics rules.  However, the state bar recognizes that a disciplinary system alone is not enough, and that it is desirable to protect the public from lawyers who mishandle funds.

How is it funded?

The fund gets its money from fees paid by Virginia lawyers.

Reimbursable losses must meet the following tests:

1. The loss was caused by the dishonest conduct of the lawyer, not by negligence or malpractice.

2.  The loss arose from a lawyer-client relationship or a fiduciary relationship between the lawyer and the claimant.

3. The claim is filed within seven years from when the petitioner knew or should have known about the loss.

4. One of the following applies to the lawyer:

  • The lawyer has been suspended or disbarred from the practice of law for disciplinary reasons;
  • The lawyer has voluntarily resigned from the practice of law;
  • The lawyer has died;
  • The lawyer has been found mentally incompetent; or
  • The lawyer’s whereabouts is unknown to the Virginia State Bar.

5. The amount of the loss can be documented.

Who investigates the claims and grants payments from the fund?

A fourteen-member board appointed by the Virginia State Bar Council operates the fund. Members of the board investigate each claim, and the board reviews the results of the investigation to ascertain if the claimed loss fits within its guidelines for reimbursement.

Is there a limit on how much a petitioner can receive?

Yes. Each petitioner may receive no more than $50,000.

How are claims filed?

If you believe your loss fits within the requirements outlined, download a petition form in one of the two available formats (below), complete the form, and mail it to the address on the form.

Clients’ Protection Fund Petition (Word file)

Clients’ Protection Fund Petition (pdf file*)

 


Updated: Sep 17, 2013