Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection

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The Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protections can help clients whose money was stolen by their New Jersey attorney, if that attorney has been suspended or disbarred, or is in disability inactive status or deceased.

Michael McCormick, Court Executive 3b

Submit a Claim Online

First-Time User  Returning User

Please refer to this LFCP Guide to properly register online if a first-time user.

Submit a Claim Through Mail

To claim a refund for money your attorney has stolen, complete the Statement of Claim form.

Complete the Unearned Retainer Certification form only if your attorney has been suspended or disbarred, or is in disability inactive status. This form also should be completed if the attorney has died.

Complete the Authorization form so that the Fund can investigate your claim.

Please mail the original and two (2) copies of these forms to the Fund at: 

NJ Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
PO Box 970
Trenton, New Jersey 08625

Please also send copies of the forms to the County Prosecutor for the county in which your attorney practiced law and the Office of Attorney Ethics at

Office of Attorney Ethics
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
PO Box 970
Trenton, New Jersey 08625

For questions, or for if you need help completing the forms, call 855-533-3863 , Option 2. You can also read our frequently asked questions below.

Claims Limits

The fund can reimburse clients up to $400,000.

If more than one client submits a claim against the same attorney, the maximum the fund can pay to cover all the claims is $1.5 million.

The fund cannot repay money lost because an attorney gave bad advice. It cannot repay money from losing a court case, a bad investment, a business decision, nor settle fee disputes. The Fund can return money paid to an attorney if no services were rendered in return. To do so:

  • There must be proof that that the client hired the attorney to represent them in a legal matter.
  • There must be proof that the lawyer stole money which the lawyer was given or was holding in escrow.

Ineligible and Reinstatement Lists

The following attorneys are administratively ineligible to practice law due to non-payment of required annual fees.

History of the Fund

The New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection is a committee of the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Fund also handles the payment and registration process for lawyers admitted to practice. Its operations are governed by Court Rule 1:28. The state’s lawyers pay into the Fund each year. The Fund uses this money to reimburse clients who are victims of attorney theft. No tax dollars go to the Fund. The Fund was created in 1961 as a part of the New Jersey State Bar Association. In 1969, the Supreme Court took over operation of the Fund at the Bar’s request. It was called the Clients’ Security Fund until its name changed in 1991. The Fund has served as a national leader in restoring client funds on behalf of the legal profession.

Board Resources

Trustees of the LFCP can access resources through this site.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

    • Q. Who finances the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection?

      New Jersey's judges and lawyers, as well as pro hac vice attorneys, multijurisdictional attorneys, in-house counsel, and foreign legal consultants, pay for the Fund. Each of these has an annual obligation to fulfill. That obligation is to:

      1. maintain a current address with the Fund;
      2. complete and return the original annual billing form; and,
      3. pay the prescribed fee or, if qualified, request an exemption under Rule 1:28-2.

      The amount of the fee for judges and for those New Jersey attorneys who hold plenary licenses is based on the calendar year of admission. For the first and second calendar years of admission, there is no fee. The fee is $25 for the third and fourth years, and $50 for the fifth through forty-ninth years. Lawyers admitted fifty years or more are exempt from the fee. The amount of the fee for pro hac vice attorneys, multijurisdictional attorneys, in-house counsel, and foreign legal consultants is the same as the fee for attorneys in the fifth through forty-ninth years. These fees provide the resources necessary to operate the Fund and pay claims. The monies collected are invested in interest-bearing accounts and government backed securities to provide additional revenue. The Fund also seeks to recover money paid on claims, as described below.

      There is another, larger, component of the annual assessment collected by the Fund which pays for the disciplinary system and a smaller portion that supports the Lawyers Assistance Program and the Board of Bar Examiners. New Jersey attorneys begin paying this component in the second calendar year of admission. There is no delay in payments for pro hac vice attorneys, multijurisdictional attorneys, in-house counsel, and foreign legal consultants.

    • Q. Who administers the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection?

      The Fund is administered by a volunteer Board of Trustees composed of five lawyers and two non-lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court to serve staggered five year terms without compensation. The Board of Trustees employs full-time staff at the Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton to handle the day-to-day operations.

    • Q. How do I file a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection?

      Claim forms can be obtained on-line: Statement of Claim form with Supplemental Statement, or by calling us toll-free: 855-533-3863 , Option 2. Additionally, you may request a form in writing. Please send a written request to;

       

      NJ Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection - Administrative Office of the Courts
      Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
      P.O. Box 961
      Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0961

      Staff personnel screen each request. If the claim does not appear to be within the jurisdiction of the Fund, that is explained to the person requesting the form. The completed claim form must be submitted with an original signature by the Claimant. The original executed claim form with proofs attached is filed with the Fund, along with two copies. There is no filing fee. The facts disclosed in the claim must be provided to the appropriate county prosecutor and to Jason Saunders, Court Executive 3a
      Office of Attorney Ethics - Administrative Office of the Courts
      Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
      P.O. Box 963
      Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0963
    • Q. When can a claim be filed with the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection?

      Under Rule 1:28 the Board of Trustees can only consider claims against an attorney who has been disciplined (suspended, disbarred, or disability inactive), or who is deceased. A claim can be filed with the Fund within one year of the date of first discipline or death. For good cause, the Trustees may, in their discretion, allow a claim to be filed out of time.

    • Q. What kinds of claims can be filed with the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection?

      Claimants must show dishonest conduct: that the respondent attorney received money which was stolen in the course of an attorney/client relationship. There are also instances where an attorney takes and keeps a retainer despite knowing that services cannot, or will not, be performed.

    • Q. What evidence do I need to submit a claim to the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection?

      A claimant must prove:

      1. receipt by the respondent attorney of money or property belonging to the claimant;
      2. conversion of the money by the respondent; and
      3. a definite loss resulting from this dishonest conduct.

      It is necessary to submit specific proof of payment to an attorney, such as copies of front and reverse sides of checks, supporting documents such as escrow agreements, settlement statements or retainer agreements. Although the Fund staff will assist in identifying proofs, the primary burden is on the claimant to demonstrate the compensability of a claim. The Fund has subpoena power for use when necessary.

      Respondents receive a copy of each claim including documentation provided, with an invitation to reply with proofs of their own.

    • Q. What claims are not accepted by the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection?

      Claims involving fee disputes, unfortunate or ill-advised investments placed through attorneys, and professional negligence or malpractice are not compensable. The Fund does not pay consequential damages or interest on claims.

    • Q. How are Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection Claims decided?

      The Fund staff reviews all claims and prepares a substantive Agenda for the Board of Trustees to consider. The Trustees meet monthly to determine policy and decide claims. In some instances, a hearing is held to take testimony from the claimant, the respondent, and any other persons with knowledge of the transaction. Other claims are decided by the Trustees as administrative determinations based on the written proofs submitted. The Board of Trustees, in its sole discretion, decides all claims under Rule 1:28-3, including the amount, timing and conditions of payment for those approved.

    • Q. Does the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection seek to recover payments from disciplined attorneys?

      Yes. The Fund takes an assignment of the claimants' rights against respondents and others who may be liable. It is the Trustees' policy to obtain judgment against all defalcating attorneys. The Fund vigorously pursues recovery from respondents, and from collateral sources where appropriate. Collateral sources are third parties liable by virtue of their relationship to the respondent or the nature of the misappropriation. Examples of collateral sources are fidelity bonds, title insurance, partners of a defalcating attorney and their malpractice carrier, and banks and insurance companies involved in forged endorsement cases.

    • Q. What are the limits on the payment of claims?

      At the present time there is a limit of $400,000 per claimant for claims arising after January 1, 2007 and an aggregate maximum for claims against a single attorney of $1,500,000. Lower per claimant maximums apply to claims arising prior to January 1, 2007. If the compensable claims exceed the aggregate maximum, the Trustees may petition the Supreme Court for an increase as to that attorney. It may be necessary to categorize the claimants according to hardship in order to determine payment, or to delay payment until the extent of the aggregate maximum problem can be determined.

    • Q. What are collateral sources?

      Collateral sources are third parties liable by virtue of their relationship to the respondent or the nature of the misappropriation. Examples of collateral sources are fidelity bonds, title insurance, partners of a defalcating attorney and their malpractice carrier, and banks and insurance companies involved in forged endorsement cases.

    • Q. Are there ways other than financial support in which the Bar contributes to the Fund's success?

      Yes. Many claimants are assisted in their claim by New Jersey lawyers. Such representation is without charge under Rule 1:28-3(f). Also, the good work of prosecutors and those who work in discipline gives the Fund jurisdiction over matters and develops information helpful to a just resolution of claims.

    • Q. Who is a proper claimant?

      In order to be a proper claimant, a person must prove a theft of trust money as a result of an attorney/client relationship or fiduciary relationship with the respondent attorney.

    • Q. How do I petition the Supreme Court?

      Instructions for petitioning the Supreme Court are available from the Board of Bar Examiners

For more information, please call the Fund at   855-533-3863 Option 2 for claims.