A woman had a legal problem; she was worried that her neighbors might sue her over a fencing issue. At the first meeting with her new attorney he advised her that to put herself in the best possible legal position, she should post a $50,000 bond with the court so that any judge would see that she was acting in good faith. In fact, he told her, the courts called this “the good faith bond”. She wrote out the check right there in his office and the attorney amiably agreed to take the check and get the bond for her. That same week the attorney met with another new client, this time a businessman who was having some difficulties with one of his adult bookstores. The businessman immediately paid the attorney’s “retainer fee” and wrote out a check to the attorney for $75,000.00.
Neither client ever heard from their attorney again.
Yes, the attorney did ultimately lose his license to practice law. Yes, he was successfully prosecuted for grand theft. And yes, the clients wisely applied for and received reimbursement (up to $50,000 each) from the Client Security Fund at the State Bar. The California State Bar has established the Client Security Fund to help reimburse clients who have had money stolen by their attorney. A portion of the annual dues paid into the Bar goes into the fund.
Next: What happens when the attorney is the criminal?
Mara J. Mamet