Another Great Reason to Like Lawyers You’ve Never Heard Of

At On the Merits, we like to counter all the negativity about lawyers and the legal profession by highlighting all the good stuff that you never hear about, because, frankly, the media doesn’t find it as interesting as the more salacious stories about lawyers, like those who have sex with their clients (or their client’s wife).

One of those good things — and one of the best-kept secrets in Texas, even among many members of the Bar — is the State Bar of Texas’ Client Security Fund.  The fund was established by the State Bar in 1975 to:

“…provide relief to clients whose lawyers have not met their obligations to pay restitution or — in the case of disbarment, resignation, or death of the lawyer — clients who can demonstrate post-judgment that their lawyers stole money from them or failed to refund an unearned fee.” 

When the Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the State Bar of Texas — who prosecutes wrongdoing by Texas attorneys — is unable to collect restitution judgments against a malfeasant attorney, the Client Security Fund is available to make up the difference.  In fiscal 2011, the fund made 91 grants totaling $704,335, the highest amount awarded in its 36-year history. Of that total, 67 percent involved attorney theft, while the remainder addressed failure to return unearned fees. 

The fund is supported by an annual, substantial grant by the State Bar of Texas and interest from the fund’s existing balance of approximately $4 million. Uncompensated victims of lawyer wrongdoing, therefore, are ultimately compensated by money that comes exclusively from all other members of the Bar.   

In other words, the vast majority of Texas lawyers who don’t steal from their clients effectively pass the hat to cover the losses caused by the unfortunate few that do. 

What other profession does that? 

Posted: 1/13/2012 10:28:11 AM by Editor | with 0 comments

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About This Blog

Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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