CONTACT: Teresa Weidemann-Smith
State Bar of Wisconsin
(800) 444-9404, ext. 6025
org twsmith wisbar wisbar twsmith org
Wisconsin Lawyers Help Victims
(MADISON) February 7, 2006 – The Wisconsin
Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, administered as a public service by
the State Bar of Wisconsin, recently awarded $189,634 in reimbursements
to 22 clients who lost money through dishonest conduct of their former
attorneys. The awards reimburse monetary losses caused by 17
attorneys (or less than 1%) of the State Bar's 17,880 active in-state
and out-of-state members.
"As lawyers, we are proud of our profession, which stands alone in
providing such a voluntary reimbursement for client losses," said
Attorney Dave Reddy, Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
Committee Chair. "This 'safety net' fund exists because of the
overwhelming majority of honest lawyers. Increasing public
awareness of this fund remains one of our top priorities."
The Fund, financed by mandatory annual assessments on all licensed,
practicing Wisconsin attorneys, was created by the Wisconsin Supreme
Court 24 years ago. The voluntary nature of the fund demonstrates
the genuine desire of the State Bar members to compensate deserving
persons and in 2004, the Supreme Court approved petitions to change the
fund's name from Client Security Fund to the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for
Client Protection. No taxpayer dollars are used for this client
The fund does not cover losses resulting from an attorney's
negligence. The fund primarily covers five areas of theft: theft
from an estate, theft by investment, misappropriation of funds, trust
account conversion and unearned advanced fees. Losses resulting
from situations in which the attorney and client have entered into a
personal business relationship outside the attorney-client relationship
are not reimbursable from the fund. Claims are reviewed and
reimbursements are determined by the State Bar of Wisconsin's Lawyers'
Fund for Client Protection Committee, which consists of five lawyers and
two non-lawyers. Since the creation of the fund in 1981, the fund
has paid $2.65 million for 444 claims against 120 attorneys.
For more information about the fund contact Kris Wenzel, Wisconsin
Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection Administrator at (608) 250-6185.
The State Bar of Wisconsin is the mandatory professional
association, created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, for attorneys who
hold a Wisconsin law license. With more than 21,000 members, the State
Bar aids the courts in improving the administration of justice, provides
continuing legal education for its members to help them maintain their
expertise, and assists Wisconsin lawyers in carrying out community
service initiatives to educate the public about the legal system and the
value of lawyers.