After a claim has been sent to the Lawyers’ Fund, it is reviewed by investigative and administrative support staff from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. A preliminary review is conducted to verify that the claim meets all eligibility requirements.
If the preliminary review shows that the claim does not meet the requirements for reimbursement, the claim is denied with an explanation provided to the Claimant. Claims that are eligible for reimbursement are investigated. The attorney involved is provided with a copy of the claim and is asked to respond. Investigative staff may interview both Claimant and attorney, and may also request documents and further clarification of the information provided.
Once the investigator is satisfied that there is adequate information to make a decision, a recommendation is prepared and submitted to Fund Trustees for consideration. Trustees review all recommendations and make a determination whether each Claim has merit, then decide upon the amount that the Claimant should receive. If necessary, Trustees may also ask for a hearing as part of the investigation.
Once a decision has been reached, written notice is provided to both the Claimant and the attorney whose alleged conduct gave rise to the claim, or their representatives. The Claimant and the attorney may request that the Trustees reconsider their determination by filing a written notice to the Fund no later than 20-days following receipt of the Trustees’ decision. Upon receipt of the request for reconsideration, the Trustees will set a date, time, and place to conduct a hearing during which time the party requesting reconsideration will be asked to provide any new information that may not have been consider previously.
The Trustees, in their discretion, may limit the scope of any such hearing and will not order any reimbursement from the Fund until after the requested hearing has been conducted. If the Claimant or the attorney fails to request a reconsideration of the orignial determination of the trustees, then the original determination shall be final.
Claimants should understand that even when a claim is found to have merit, reimbursement may not be made until all disciplinary proceedings or other legal actions against the attorney have been completed.