Inside Track: Making Victims Whole: Nearly $336,500 Reimbursed for Lawyer Theft:

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  • July
    19
    2017

    Making Victims Whole: Nearly $336,500 Reimbursed for Lawyer Theft

    The Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection Committee reimbursed 16 victims of lawyer theft over the past year.
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    July 19, 2017 – For Stephen Chiquoine, the reward comes in remedying the injury against some of the most vulnerable victims of lawyer theft.

    Chiquoine chairs the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection Committee, a committee he has served on for nearly 15 years.

    Stephen Chiquoine

    Stephen Chiquoine

    The committee regularly receives claims from people in the midst of filing for bankruptcy, appealing a criminal conviction, or pursuing an immigration request – who also become victims of their lawyers. “These are among the most vulnerable of the people lawyers serve, and are some of the most easily mistreated.”

    Helping restore their faith in lawyers and the justice system is “one of the most rewarding experiences of my legal career,” Chiquoine said.

    “For the victims of lawyer theft, the fund represents both the worst and best experience they may ever have with a lawyer. We should all be proud of this fund,” Chiquoine said.

    About the Fund for Client Protection

    The Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1981, reimburses clients who incur financial losses from the dishonest conduct of their attorneys.

    Between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, the committee considered 41 claims, and approved reimbursements totaling $336,499.20 to victims of 13 attorneys.

    The claims include reimbursements for:

    • Misappropriation of funds: one claim totaling $2,000
    • Unearned advanced fees: 12 claims totaling $34,499.20
    • Theft from estate: two claims totaling $150,000
    • Theft by investment: one claim totaling $150,000
    • Trust account conversion: two claims totaling $300,000

    Additionally, three claims, totaling $300,000, were recently approved but was paid after July 1, 2017, because there is not enough money in the fund.

    “Unfortunately, the fund is sometimes unable to pay all the valid claims we receive, without deferring some to the following fiscal year,” Chiquoine said.

    Compensating Victims of Lawyer Misconduct

    Since 1981, more than $6 million has been returned to nearly 900 victims of lawyer misconduct in Wisconsin.

    Each claim is individually investigated, and reimbursement decisions are made at the discretion of the committee, which meets three times a year. Some of the money is returned to the fund via court-ordered restitution or voluntary payments from the lawyers who have approved claims against them.

    For the victims of lawyer theft, the fund represents both the worst and best experience they may ever have with a lawyer. We should all be proud of this fund.

    Wisconsin lawyers share in the efforts to make victims whole: A portion of every member’s State Bar dues finances the fund, with the amount of the assessment determined by the committee each year by Supreme Court Rule. For 2017-2018, that amount was $20.

    For more information about the fund, contact org mzurbriggen wisbar Megan Zurbriggen, or call (800) 444-9404, ext. 6083, or (608) 250-6083.




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