Wyoming State Bar Establishes Client Protection Fund

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming State Bar today announced that it has funds available to reimburse clients’ losses caused by the dishonest conduct of lawyers in the course of the lawyer-client relationship.

The Wyoming Supreme Court approved the Rules for the Client Protection Fund of the Wyoming State Bar in May, but the rules went into effect July 1, 2017. The purpose of the Client Protection Fund is to promote public confidence in the administration of justice and the integrity of the legal profession.

Claims must be filed no later than four years after the client knew of the dishonest conduct of the lawyer. Claims may be filed against actively practicing lawyers, deceased lawyers or recently suspended or disbarred lawyers.

While the Wyoming State Bar provides the administrative support for the program, the Wyoming Supreme Court has appointed a Client Protection Fund Committee to administer the Fund. The committee consists of nine lawyers—one from each judicial district in Wyoming. The committee has the authority to investigate, evaluate and pay legitimate claims (maximum of $15,000 per claimant per calendar year).

The Rules for the Client Protection Fund spell out which losses may be reimbursable and which are not reimbursable. Anyone considering filing a claim should read these rules in their entirety. The rules can be found here.

The Wyoming State Bar paid $30,000 in claims in 2016 and estimates it will pay approximately $45,000 in 2017. These claims are the result of dishonest conduct by one lawyer for whom the Wyoming Supreme Court issued an Order of Immediate Suspension in August 2015. The lawyer subsequently passed away before disbarment proceedings against him were concluded.

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