All across Florida, in March 1970, it was headline news when the first payments were made from the Clients’ Security Fund: $15,534,40 to seven former clients of disbarred lawyers.
Then Florida Bar President Mark Hulsey, Jr., of Jacksonville, called it “the debt of honor lawyers of Florida want to pay the public. Let it be known that the Bar has underwritten the integrity of every practicing lawyer in Florida.”
Since then, the Clients’ Security Fund has processed more than 11,000 claims and paid out nearly $29 million to victims of attorney theft. In FY 2012-13, the fund received 372 claims and paid out more than $2.4 million to clients.
Claims are filed in writing by the former client, reviewed by Bar staff, and, when appropriate, referred to a member of the committee for investigation. The committee is made up of 24 volunteer attorneys appointed from all regions of Florida by the Bar president-elect. Meeting four times a year, the committee spends the whole year reviewing and investigating claims. Committee recommendations are submitted to the Board of Governors for final consideration.