Press Release: Wisconsin Lawyers Help Victims:

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    Wisconsin Lawyers Help Victims

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    For Immediate Release

    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 protection program.

    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.