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How the Fund Works

The rules of the Supreme Judicial Court authorize the Board to reimburse members of the public who have suffered financial losses only when those losses were caused by the defalcations of Massachusetts lawyers.

A defalcation occurs when a lawyer, while providing legal services within a lawyer-client relationship, steals, embezzles, or misappropriates money or other property that rightfully and legally belongs to the client.

There is no defalcation where a client disputes the fee charged by the lawyer or where a client alleges the legal services rendered by the lawyer were negligent, incompetent, or inadequate.

The Board has jurisdiction to make reimbursements only when the lawyer who is the subject of the claim was a member of the Massachusetts bar and either:

  1. has been disbarred or suspended by the Supreme Judicial Court;
  2. has resigned; or
  3. has died.

All reimbursements come from funds provided by the lawyers of Massachusetts.  No public funds or tax dollars are used for any reimbursements.

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