The Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection is a fund established by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reimburse clients who suffer loss of money or other property from the dishonest conduct of their attorney. The Fund is a remedy for clients who cannot be repaid from other sources, such as from insurance or from the attorney involved. Claimants are expected to make reasonable efforts to collect from these other sources first.
The legal profession depends upon the trust of clients. When a lawyer betrays that trust by taking client funds, it is important that the victims be fairly compensated.
Members of the State Bar of Wisconsin are assessed annual fees to finance the Fund. The amount of the assessment is determined by the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection Committee each year, per Supreme Court Rule.
The Fund is administered by the State Bar of Wisconsin, per Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule. The Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection Committee has five lawyer members and two non-lawyer members.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has adopted written rules for the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection Committee. The Committee follows these rules in its procedures and decisions. The Board is allowed a good deal of discretion in deciding what claims to pay and deny, and the amount of payment.
The Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection covers most situations in which lawyers have misappropriated clients' money or other property entrusted to them. The attorney in question must be a Wisconsin lawyer, and must have served the client as an attorney in a fiduciary capacity (as administrator, executor, trustee of an express trust, guardian, or conservator), arising from an attorney-client relationship.
The maximum amount the Board may pay on a claim is based on the table below:
The Fund does not cover losses resulting from:
In addition, the fund will not provide reimbursement if any of the following apply:
The Board does not have the authority to discipline attorneys for misconduct, to resolve fee disputes, or to determine legal malpractice claims. Such matters should be reported to the Office of Lawyer Responsibility.
Each claim is reviewed to determine eligibility for payment. If a claim is denied, the claimant will be advised of the reasons for denial. The Committee determines the merit of all claims, and the amount of any reimbursement.
A copy of the application for reimbursement may be downloaded or can be obtained by contacting: Kris Wenzel, administrator, at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6185, or (608) 250-6185, or write to PO Box 7158, Madison, WI 53708-7158.