News and Information
October 30, 2020

Clients’ Protection Fund Board Pays $54,075.00 to Former Clients

The Virginia State Bar Clients’ Protection Fund Board authorized payments totaling $54,075.00 in reimbursement to former clients of Virginia attorneys at its June 9, 2020 meeting and at its most recent meeting on September 25, 2020. Eight payments were authorized at the June 9, 2020 meeting and published in the August 2020 issue of Virginia Lawyer.

In the June meeting’s largest award, a client of Nnika Evangeline White of Richmond, received $35,365 as reimbursement of fees that she paid her attorney who misappropriated the funds in a bankruptcy matter. White’s license was suspended in November 2015 based in part on the same facts related to this case. Furthermore, she was convicted of bankruptcy fraud and sentenced to one year in prison. Her license was revoked on April 2016.

Chesterfield attorney Katina C. Whitfield’s former client was awarded $3,500 for unearned fees in a domestic relations case.  Whitfield failed to represent the client in a custody and child support matter. Whitfield’s license was revoked in November 2019 as a result of a complaint to the Virginia State Bar regarding this matter.  

At the September meeting, a Richmond lawyer Ellis Charles Baggs’ two former clients received $4,500 and $3,210 for his failure to earn his fee for immigration cases. In the first case, Baggs’ failed to file a motion to change venue in an immigration removal proceeding after accepting $4,500 in payment. In the second instance, Baggs was found to have completed some of the work he was hired to do for an application for asylum and motion to change venue of an immigration proceeding. Baggs’ license was revoked in March 2020 pursuant to a consent to revocation involving these two clients.

Two former clients of Randall Sousa of Fairfax were awarded $4,000 and $2,500. In the first case, Sousa was hired to represent his client for a misdemeanor DUI charge and was late to three court sessions, causing a continuance each time. He then failed to attend one court date entirely. The client was awarded $4,000 as reimbursement of fees paid to the attorney.  The second client was awarded half the requested recompense after Sousa failed to attend court and complete divorce filings. The board found that Sousa had performed some of the services he was retained for but failed to complete the work for his client.  Sousa’s license was suspended for 3 years in January 2020. This follows an earlier interim suspension entered November 2019 for failure to comply with a Virginia State Bar subpoena duces tecum.

A former client of Paul Granville Watson, IV, of Eastville was awarded $1,000 by the board for failing to void a default judgement to a prior damage claim. Watson’s license was suspended in October 2019, prompting the client to request a refund, which he failed to pay. Watson’s license was revoked in February 2020.

A chart of the amounts paid as a result of the two meetings follows. The board delays the release of the final chart, as the awards given to petitioners are subject to a 30-day appeal period.

June 9, 2020 

Docket Number

Lawyer’s Name

City of Record Amount Paid Type of Case

20-555-003240

Nnika Evangeline White

Richmond, VA

$35,365.00

Unearned fees/Bankruptcy

20-555-003250

Katina C. Whitfield

Chesterfield, VA

$3,500.00

Unearned fees/Family Law

September 25, 2020 

Docket Number

Lawyer’s Name

City of Record

Amount Paid Type of Case
20-555-003275

Ellis Charles Baggs

Richmond, VA $4,500.00

Unearned fees/Immigration

20-555-003274

Ellis Charles Baggs

Richmond, VA

$3,210.00

Unearned fees/Immigration

20-555-003269

Randall Sousa

Fairfax, VA

$4,000.00

Unearned fees/Criminal

20-555-003273

Randall Sousa

Fairfax, VA

$2,500.00 Unearned fees/Family Law
20-555-003276 Paul Granville Watson, IV Eastville, VA $1,000.00 Unearned fees/Collections

The Clients’ Protection Fund was created by the Supreme Court of Virginia in 1976 to reimburse persons who suffer a quantifiable financial loss because of dishonest conduct by a Virginia lawyer whose law license has been suspended or revoked for disciplinary reasons, or who has died and did not properly maintain client funds. The fund is not taxpayer funded but is supported by Virginia lawyers who pay an annual fee of up to $25. The Supreme Court of Virginia has set the current annual fee at $10 per Virginia lawyer with an active license status. Payments from the Clients’ Protection Fund are discretionary and are not a matter of right.

If you have any questions, you may contact Vivian R. Byrd, administrator to Clients’ Protection Fund by email at (804) 775-0572.

Updated: Jan 07, 2021