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Bar takes up client protection issues

Payee notification of insurance checks and random audits of trust accounts are two proposals under active study as the Virginia State Bar this month convened a meeting to deal solely with protecting the public from dishonest lawyers.

As we reported last month, recent attorney defalcations in Virginia have been costly to clients and others.  The damage exceeds $10 million, according to bar president Manuel A. Capsalis.

Other ideas circulated at the recent bar meeting include:

  • Quicker resolution of disciplinary matters and accountability to victims, complainants, and witnesses.
  • A possible fast-track process for embezzlement receiverships. The former Receivership Task Force could be reconstituted to deal with these issues and the possibility of statutory authority for a less formal receivership when a lawyer dies or becomes disabled.
  • Mandatory participation by lawyers in fee dispute resolution, which is rarely used.
  • Providing pro bono assistance to clients who are victims of lawyer defalcations, to assist them through the Clients’ Protection Fund application process.
  • Requiring lawyers to carry a universal fidelity bond that would protect clients from defalcation.

By Peter Vieth

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