The Massachusetts Clients’ Security Board (CSB) is a panel of attorneys, appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court. They are entrusted with a never ending source of money – a portion of all registered Massachusetts attorneys’ annual fees! all registered Massachusetts attorneys’ annual fees! [CAROLINE START HERE] Unfortunately, the CSB’s job is never ending as well – their job is to distribute funds to victims of attorney dishonest financial conduct. That is, when an attorney steals money that he or she was a fiduciary of, the CSB investigates and pays the client for the loss.
In the CSB annual report, filed on August 31, 2009, the total amount awarded was $1,328,039, a decrease of 50% from their 2008 fiscal year. On the other hand, the total number of claims decided, 116, was up 30% from last year. The largest single award was $243,498.00; the smallest, $365.00.
The good news for Massachusetts lawyers is that the total number of lawyers found responsible was 33; out of a total number of licensed attorneys of 53,071, or 0.06%. Of those 33 lawyers, there were 83 awards made to Massachusetts victims.
The three largest categories of awards were: unearned retainers (client moneys accepted by an attorney who failed to perform the legal service), 42 awards, 50.6% of total awards; personal injury settlements (misappropriation of proceeds), 15 awards, 19.97% of total awards; and, trusts and estates (misappropriation of money by an attorney serving as trustee, executor or counsel to the executor), 8 awards, 9.64% of total awards. Interestingly, of the claims pending, there are roughly the same percentage of potential payouts.