The Client Security Fund (CSF) Commission suggests that you read the Client Security Fund rules carefully before filling out and sending in your application.
To help you decide whether you qualify for reimbursement and the amount you may be entitled to, below are answers to the questions most often asked about the CSF program.
What do I need to know about the fund?
The Client Security Fund is financed entirely by fees paid by California lawyers.
The rules of the Fund provide that payments shall be made within the sole discretion of the State Bar and shall not be a matter of right. While your application will be given careful consideration and processing by our office, there is no assurance that reimbursement will be made from the Fund.
Who can receive reimbursement?
To find out, you should read all of the Client Security Fund rules to decide if you qualify for reimbursement. Some areas to check to see if you qualify are:
- Clients or others for whom the attorney was acting in an attorney or other fiduciary capacity customary to the practice of law can be reimbursed from the Fund. The loss must have been caused by the dishonest act of a lawyer as defined under Rule 3.431, and the lost money or property must have been received by the attorney of the lawyer. (See Rule 3.430)
- If the lawyer is living, he or she must have been disciplined through the State Bar proceedings based on your underlying discipline complaint, disbarred or have voluntarily resigned from the practice of law before reimbursement is made. (See Rule 3.432)
Do I need to send anything with my application?
- YES. It is important to send copies of documents that show the relationship between you and the attorney and the amount of your loss. In order to show your relationship with the attorney you might want to send such things as a copy of your written retainer agreement, billing statements, and/or receipts for fees. In order to prove your loss you must send copies of canceled checks (front and back), and copies of letters or other papers showing that the attorney received the money or property. Though you may have provided them to another department of the State Bar, if you send copies directly to us, it will shorten the amount of time it takes us to process your application. If you cannot send these items in, please explain why.
- Attach a written summary of how your loss occurred in answer to Question 4(b) on the application. Your application will be returned to you if you do not do so.
How long will it take to learn the decision on my application?
All applications are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to the large volume of applications currently pending, we cannot predict how long it will take before the processing of your application begins. However, the processing time may be shorter or longer depending on three factors:
- Whether the lawyer has been disciplined.
- The availability of evidence to prove that you lost money due to a lawyer's dishonesty.
- How many applications were received ahead of yours.
If you must contact us, please do so in writing.
Does the filing of a Client Security Fund application affect other legal rights I might have?
The Court of Appeal decision in the case Alvarado Community Hospital v. Superior Court (City of San Diego) (1985) 173 Cal App. 3d476 held that an applicant applying to the Client Security Fund may be giving up the right to pursue a civil action, for the same recovery, against a third party. The filing of an application does not stop any statute of limitations from running so you should continue to explore other remedies available to you.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to write to us.
Your completed application, written statement, and documents proving your loss should be returned to:
CLIENT SECURITY FUND
845 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515