Aggrieved former clients of an unidentified attorney disbarred in 2009 have filed at least 125 claims for more than $500,000 in reimbursements with the D.C. Bar, according to recent D.C. Bar reports.
The numbers are “historic” when compared to claims filed in previous years, said Jeffrey Gutman, chairman of the Bar’s Clients’ Security Fund, which handles claims for reimbursements filed by former clients of disciplined attorneys. The identity of the attorney in question is confidential, Gutman said.
From 1973 to 2009, there were never more than 57 claims filed with the fund in a single year, according to Bar statistics. In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, however, there were 96 claims filed, and of those, 67 involved this one attorney.
During the current fiscal year ending June 30, 78 claims have been filed to date. Of those, 63 involve this attorney.
The fund trustees estimate that claims involving this attorney will cost the fund between $550,000 and $600,000. The fund is expecting to process about 150 total claims relating to this one attorney, according to the fund's annual report to the Bar.
The attorney involved was disbarred by the D.C. Court of Appeals on Nov. 5, 2009, according to the report. A footnote dedicated to explaining the spike in claims noted that this attorney’s “practice was primarily representing incarcerated individuals seeking post-conviction relief.”
Gutman said that the scope of the attorney’s alleged misconduct, according to the claims filed with the fund, has been limited to the past 10 years. He could not be more specific due to rules on confidentiality.
Gutman said that because the fund can’t tackle claims until an attorney is officially disciplined, the number of claims involving this attorney have spiked between late 2009 and now. In the fund's annual report, the trustees note that they expect to resolve most, if not all, of the claims relating to this attorney by the end of this fiscal year.
“Our preference has been to resolve [claims] as we are able to, being mindful that…if they’re entitled to the money, they should get it sooner rather than later,” Gutman said. “We’re getting pretty close to completing our work.”
Updated at 1:03 p.m. with new figures on claims filed this fiscal year.