Client Security Fund
The Client Security Fund is a public service of the California legal profession. The State Bar sponsored the creation of this fund to help protect consumers of legal services by alleviating losses resulting from the dishonest conduct of attorneys.
The amount the fund may reimburse for theft committed by a California lawyer depends on when the loss occurred. A maximum of $50,000 is reimbursable if the loss occurred before January 1, 2009. A maximum of $100,000 is reimbursable rules if the loss occurred on or after January 1, 2009.
Applications for reimbursement are considered under rules that govern the Fund. For applications filed prior to January 1, 2010, the Rules of Procedure, Client Security Fund Matters apply. For applications filed on or after January 1, 2010, the new Client Security Fund rules apply.
Reimbursement covers the loss of money or property resulting from lawyer dishonesty (but not because the lawyer acted incompetently, committed malpractice or failed to take certain actions).
To qualify for reimbursement, you must be able to show that the money or property actually came into the lawyer's possession and that the loss was caused by the lawyer's dishonest conduct.
The types of dishonest conduct that may lead to reimbursement from the fund are:
- Theft or embezzlement of money or the wrongful taking or conversion of money or property;
- Failure to refund unearned attorney fees paid to the lawyer in advance where the lawyer performed no services, or an insignificant portion of the services;
- The borrowing of money from a client without the intention or reasonably anticipated ability to repay the money;
- Obtaining money or property from a client by representing that it would be used for investment purposes when no investment is made; and
- An act of intentional dishonesty or deceit that directly leads to the loss of money or property that actually came into the lawyer's possession.
The fund may reimburse fees you paid the lawyer, but only in very limited cases. Fees are not reimbursable simply because you are dissatisfied with the services, or because the work was not completed.
Since you will need to prove the attorney dishonestly took your money or property, you must first file a complaint against the attorney with the Attorney Discipline System before seeking reimbursement from the Client Security Fund.
For more information about the Client Security Fund, please return to the Client Security Fund Links, or call the Client Security Fund's office in Los Angeles at 213-765-1140.