Elements of a Good Claim
The Board is authorized to reimburse a member of the public who has suffered a financial loss only when that loss was caused by the defalcation of a Massachusetts lawyer.
A defalcation occurs when, during a lawyer-client relationship, a lawyer has actually stolen, embezzled, or misappropriated money or other property that rightfully and legally belongs to the client. The defalcation must have taken place during the lawyer's legal representation of the client.
There is no defalcation if a client disputes the fee charged by the lawyer or if a client believes the legal services provided by the lawyer were inadequate, negligent, or incomplete.
The Board is authorized to reimburse a client only when the lawyer about whom a claim is filed was a member of the bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and:
- has resigned
- has been disbarred or suspended by the Supreme Judicial Court, or
- has died.
If these elements are not present, the Board lacks jurisdiction and may not take any action on the claim.