What Happens If I Do Not Speak
The Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel
will assist by providing translation services to any non-English
Que Pasa Si Yo No Hablo Ingles?
La Oficina Reglamentaria de Abogados
asistira' en proporcionar servicios de traduccio'n a cualquier persona
que tenga una queja y no hable ingles.
1. What Is the Colorado Attorneys'
Fund for Client Protection?
The Colorado Attorneys' Fund for Client
Protection is a fund established by the Colorado Supreme Court to
reimburse clients who suffer loss of money or other property from
the dishonest conduct of their attorney. The Fund is a remedy of
last resort for clients who cannot be repaid from other sources,
such as from insurance or from the attorney involved. Claimants
are expected to make reasonable efforts to collect from these other
2. Why Was the Colorado Attorneys'
Fund for Client Protection Established?
The legal profession depends upon the
trust of clients. In a very small number of cases where attorneys
betray that trust and improperly handle client funds or property,
it is important that the legal profession's reputation for honesty
be maintained and protected by helping injured clients recover their
3. How Is the Fund Financed?
The Fund is financed by annual assessments
of active Colorado attorneys. None of the money in the Fund comes
from clients' fees. No tax dollars are used. The voluntary nature
of the Fund demonstrates the genuine desire of the Colorado legal
professional to compensate clients for the dishonest actions of
a few of its members.
4. Who Administers the Colorado
Attorneys' Fund for Client Protection?
The Fund is administered by a Board
of seven Trustees appointed by the Colorado Supreme Court. The Board,
which is composed of both attorneys and non-attorneys, serves without
compensation as a public service.
The Board obtains administrative and
investigative assistance from the Colorado Supreme Court Office
of Attorney Regulation Counsel. All final claim decisions are made
by the Board.
5. How Does the Board Operate
and Make Decisions?
The Colorado Supreme Court has adopted
written rules for the Board. Additionally, the Board has also adopted
its own guidelines to publicize its internal procedures. The Board
must follow these rules and guidelines in its procedures and decisions.
The Board is allowed substantial discretion in deciding what claims
to pay and deny, and the amount of payment. You may view the Board's
Rules by reviewing C.R.C.P. 252.
6. What Kinds of Losses Are
The Colorado Attorneys' Fund for Client
Protection covers losses caused by the dishonest conduct of an attorney
who is licensed to practice law by the Colorado Supreme Court. The
attorney must have served the client as an attorney or in a court-appointed
7. Who Is a Proper Claimant?
In order to be a proper claimant, a
person must prove the existence of an attorney/client relationship
or a fiduciary relationship with an attorney. The fund does not
pay interest on claims.
8. How Are Claims Filed?
You can request claim forms in writing
or by telephone. Staff personnel screen each claim. If the claim
does not appear to be within the jurisdiction of the Fund, that
is explained to the person requesting the form. However, no one
is refused a claim form. The completed claim form must be signed
by the claimant, and the claimant's signature must be notarized.
There is no filing fee.
9. What Kinds of Claims Are
Claimants must show that the attorney
received funds and misappropriated them. There are also instances
where an attorney takes and keeps a retainer despite knowing that
services cannot, or will not, be performed. Claims involving misappropriation
of funds for the purpose of making an investment on behalf of the
client may be compensable in limited instances.
10. What Kinds of Claims Are
Claims involving fee disputes, unfortunate
or ill-advised investments placed through attorneys, and professional
negligence or malpractice are not eligible.
11. What Is "Dishonest"
"Dishonest" conduct includes
theft or embezzlement of money or conversion of money, property
or other things of value, refusal to refund unearned fees and costs
deposits, or borrowing money from a client without intention or
ability to repay it.
12. What Proof of Dishonest
Conduct Is Necessary?
A claimant must prove:
1. receipt by the attorney of money
or property belonging to the claimant;
2. conversion of the funds by the attorney; and
3. a definite loss resulting from this dishonest conduct.
It is necessary to submit specific
proof of payment of funds 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 staff will assist in identifying proof, the primary burden is
on the claimant to demonstrate the compensability of a claim. The
Fund has subpoena power for use when necessary.
The attorney will receive a copy of
each claim including documentation provided together with an invitation
13. What Happens When a Claim
Each claim is initially reviewed by
the Colorado Supreme Court's Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel
to determine eligibility for payment. All claims will then be reviewed
by the Board of Trustees to determine the merits of all claims,
and the amount of any reimbursement.
14. How Long Will the Claim
Typically the Fund will make disbursements
once a year. In other words, the investigation and analysis of the
claim may take as long as one year. It is important that you keep
the Office of Attorney Regulation informed of your current mailing
address and telephone number. NOTE: The first disbursement from
the Fund will not occur until on or after January 1, 2001.
15. What Are the Limits on
the Payment of Claims?
At the present time there is a limit
of $5,000 per claim and an aggregate maximum limit of $20,000 for
all claims against a single attorney. The dishonest conduct causing
the loss must have occurred on or after July 1, 1999.
16. Does the Fund Seek to Recover
Yes. The Fund takes an assignment of
the claimant's rights against attorneys and others who may be liable.
It is the Trustees' policy to obtain judgment against all dishonest
attorneys. The Fund vigorously pursues collateral sources where
17. What Are Collateral Sources?
Collateral sources are third parties
who may be liable by virtue of the nature of the misappropriation.
Examples of collateral sources are fidelity bonds, title insurance,
partners of the dishonest attorney and his or her malpractice carrier,
and banks and insurance companies involved in forged indorsement
18. Are There Ways Other Than
Financial Support in Which the Profession Contributes to the Fund's
Yes. Many claimants are assisted
in their claim by Colorado attorneys. Such representation is without
charge. Also, the prosecutors and individuals who work in the Attorney
Regulation Counsel's office develop information helpful to a just
resolution of claims.