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Isack! My Lawyer stole my settlement!
Settlements are the result of months, or even years, of hard work and perseverance.
And the idea of having your settlement stolen by your own attorney can be a nightmare come true.
Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon, and many people are left feeling helpless and defeated when they discover that their hard-earned money has been taken by a trusted professional.
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If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to know that you have legal options to recover what’s rightfully yours.
Here, we’ll explore the issue of stolen settlements, your rights as a client, and the steps you can take to fight back against an unscrupulous attorney.
Whether you’re looking to recover your stolen settlement or just want to be informed, this post will provide you with the information you need.”
Let’s get started
Before we get started
Can a lawyer really steal my settlement?
a big YES
And he may do it anytime
Disgraced ex-lawyer Tom Girardi, once celebrated for winning massive settlements, has been indicted by federal grand juries in Los Angeles and Chicago on charges he stole more than $18 million from clients (source)
Here is another example
A disbarred personal-injury lawyer, Philip James Layfield, a.k.a. “Philip Samuel Pesin, was sentenced to 144 months in federal prison for stealing settlement money from multiple clients, including a multimillion-dollar settlement that should have been paid to a car accident victim, and for cheating on his federal income taxes. (source)
So if your lawyer stole your settlement and thought that you are alone, you are WRONG.
Now let’s see how you can handle that ‘bastard’
Jump to section
- Lawyer stole my settlement
- Things to consider before taking legal action
- How to prevent settlement theft by lawyers
- FAQ about lawyer steal settlement
- Is it common for lawyers to steal settlements?
- What should I do if I suspect my lawyer stole my settlement?
- How can I prevent my settlement from being stolen by my lawyer?
- What legal options are available to me if my lawyer stole my settlement?
- Can I sue my lawyer for stealing my settlement?
- How long do I have to take legal action if my lawyer stole my settlement?
- What evidence do I need to prove that my lawyer stole my settlement?
- Can I file a complaint with the state bar association if my lawyer stole my settlement?
Lawyer stole my settlement
If a lawyer stole your settlement, it is important to take prompt action to protect your rights and recover the stolen funds. Your legal options may include filing a complaint with the state bar association, pursuing a civil lawsuit against the lawyer, or pursuing criminal charges.
Before taking legal action, it is important to consider factors such as the evidence of the theft, the potential consequences for the lawyer, and the cost and time involved.
By seeking the guidance of a trusted legal professional, you can navigate the legal process and work towards obtaining the justice you deserve.
Here is how you can sail through the process
Understand your rights
As a client, you have certain rights that your attorney is bound to respect.
When an attorney steals your settlement, these rights are violated, leaving you feeling helpless and frustrated.
To understand your options for recovery, it is essential to first understand your rights.
The Attorney-Client Relationship
The relationship between a client and an attorney is one of trust and confidence.
Your attorney is bound by a professional and ethical obligation to act in your best interests and to maintain the confidentiality of your information.
This relationship is also governed by contracts, such as the retainer agreement or engagement letter, which outlines the terms and conditions of your relationship.
Obligations of Lawyers
Lawyers have a duty to adhere to ethical and professional standards, which are set forth by the state bar association.
They are also required to maintain client confidentiality and act in the best interests of their clients.
Read also: Duties of lawyers
When an attorney steals your settlement, they are violating these obligations, which can result in disciplinary action against them.
Professional Liability Insurance
Many lawyers carry professional liability insurance to protect their clients in the event of theft or misappropriation of funds.
If your attorney has professional liability insurance, you may be able to recover some or all of your stolen settlement through a claim against their insurance policy.
Read also: Difference between lawyer and attorney
If you believe that a lawyer has stolen your settlement, the following are the legal options available to you to recover your money.
Filing a Complaint with the State Bar Association
Filing a complaint with the State Bar Association is one of the first steps you can take if you believe that a lawyer has stolen your settlement.
The State Bar Association is responsible for regulating the conduct of lawyers and enforcing ethical standards.
If you file a complaint, the association will investigate the matter and may take disciplinary action against the lawyer if they find evidence of theft.
The complaint process typically involves filling out a complaint form and providing documentation and evidence to support your claim.
It’s important to provide as much detail as possible and to be honest and factual in your complaint.
The State Bar Association will then conduct an investigation, which may involve interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents, and conducting other investigative steps.
If the State Bar Association finds that the lawyer has committed theft, they may take disciplinary action, which can include disbarment (revocation of the lawyer’s license to practice law), suspension of the license, or a reprimand.
The disciplinary action taken will depend on the severity of the theft and the circumstances surrounding the case.
It’s important to keep in mind that filing a complaint with the State Bar Association does not guarantee that the lawyer will be disciplined or that you will receive compensation for the stolen settlement.
However, the complaint process can serve as a means of holding the lawyer accountable for their actions and may lead to disciplinary action against the lawyer if the evidence supports your claim.
File a civil lawsuit against the Lawyer
Another option for you to recover your money is to file a civil lawsuit against the lawyer.
A civil lawsuit is a legal action in which you can seek financial compensation for any civil claim.
I know what you think!
Theft is not a civil claim
You are 1000% right!
But you have to be smart.
You may file your case based on a breach of contract claim.
Your lawyer has failed to heed the terms and conditions of your retainer agreement
If you are successful in your lawsuit, you may be awarded damages, which can include compensation for the stolen settlement, attorney’s fees, and any other expenses you incurred as a result of the theft.
File criminal charges against the Lawyer
Filing criminal charges against the lawyer is a serious step and should only be taken in cases where the theft of the settlement was particularly egregious.
This option can result in the lawyer facing fines, imprisonment, or both.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the criminal justice system operates differently from civil lawsuits, and the burden of proof is much higher.
In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the lawyer stole the settlement.
This is a higher standard of proof than in a civil lawsuit, where you must only prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence.
Additionally, the criminal justice system operates more slowly than the civil court and can take several years to resolve a case.
It’s important to note that a criminal conviction does not automatically result in financial compensation for you.
If you want to seek compensation for the stolen settlement, you will need to file a separate civil lawsuit.
Things to consider before taking legal action
When you suspect that your lawyer has stolen your settlement, you may be feeling angry and frustrated.
However, before taking legal action, it’s important to consider the following important factors to ensure that your case has a good chance of success.
Evidence of the Theft
Evidence is key in any legal claim, and it’s no different when it comes to allegations of settlement theft by a lawyer.
Without solid evidence, it will be difficult to prove that the lawyer stole your money.
Some common types of evidence include:
- Bank records: If your settlement was transferred to a separate account, your bank records will show the exact amount and date of the transfer.
- Emails or correspondence: If you communicated with your lawyer about the settlement, any emails or letters you received may be used as evidence.
- Witness statements: If anyone else was present when you discussed the settlement with your lawyer or if anyone has knowledge of the situation, their testimony can be used as evidence in your case.
- Receipts or invoices: If you made any payments to your lawyer in connection with your settlement, receipts or invoices can be used as evidence of the amount and date of the payment.
It’s important to gather as much evidence as possible in order to build a strong case.
A good lawyer can help you determine what evidence is relevant and how to obtain it.
Keep in mind that the more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be.
Potential Consequences for the Lawyer
Taking legal action against a lawyer can have serious consequences for them.
Depending on the severity of the case and the outcome of the legal proceedings, the lawyer may face a range of penalties, including:
- Disbarment: The state bar association has the authority to revoke a lawyer’s license to practice law if they are found to have engaged in unethical or illegal behavior. This means that they would no longer be able to practice law in that state.
- Fines: If a lawyer is found guilty of theft, they may be fined by the state bar association or by the court. These fines can be substantial and are meant to punish the lawyer and serve as a deterrent to others.
- Jail Time: In some cases, lawyers who steal settlements may face criminal charges and be sentenced to jail time. This would depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the laws of the jurisdiction in which the lawyer was practicing.
It’s important to note that even if the lawyer is found guilty and faces consequences such as disbarment, fines, or jail time, they may not be able to pay back the money they stole.
In these cases, it may be difficult for you to recover your stolen settlement.
Therefore, before taking legal action against a lawyer, it’s important to consider not only the potential consequences for the lawyer but also the likelihood of recovering the stolen settlement and whether the cost and time involved in pursuing legal action are worth it.
Cost and time involved in taking legal action
Pursuing legal action against a lawyer can be a long and expensive process.
This includes the cost of hiring a new lawyer to represent you, as well as any expenses related to gathering evidence, filing paperwork, and attending court hearings.
The legal process can take several months or even years, and it can be emotionally draining to relive the experience of having your settlement stolen.
It’s important to consider the cost of taking legal action when deciding whether to move forward with a case.
The cost of a new lawyer, court fees, and other expenses can quickly add up. In addition, you’ll need to take time off from work to attend court hearings and meetings with your lawyer.
While the cost of taking legal action is a significant consideration, it’s important to remember that the goal is to recover the money that was stolen from you.
If you have a strong case and solid evidence, the time and expense involved in taking legal action may be worth it in the end.
Generally, the decision of whether to take legal action should be based on a careful evaluation of your individual circumstances and the likelihood of success.
Before making a decision, it’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer who can help you understand your options and the potential outcomes.
How to prevent settlement theft by lawyers
Preventing settlement theft by lawyers requires taking a proactive approach to protect your hard-earned money.
Here are some practical steps you can take to minimize the risk of having your settlement stolen by your lawyer;
Hire a reputable lawyer
Hiring a reputable lawyer is the first and most important step in preventing settlement theft.
You want to ensure that you are working with a professional who has a proven track record of honesty and integrity.
To find such a lawyer, you can do the following:
- Ask for references: Talk to friends, family, or colleagues who have hired lawyers in the past. Ask them about their experiences and if they would recommend their lawyer to you.
- Check credentials: Verify that the lawyer you are considering is licensed to practice law in your state. You can usually find this information on the state bar association’s website.
- Look for disciplinary action: Check to see if the lawyer you are considering has any disciplinary action against them. This information is usually available on the state bar association’s website. If a lawyer has a history of ethical violations, it’s a red flag that you should look elsewhere.
- Research online: Look for reviews and ratings of the lawyer you are considering. Read both positive and negative reviews to get a well-rounded understanding of their work and reputation.
By doing your due diligence and hiring a reputable lawyer, you can help minimize the risk of having your settlement stolen.
A trustworthy and competent lawyer will not only ensure that your settlement is handled properly but also provide you with peace of mind throughout the process.
For deeper insight read this post 10+ things to consider when hiring a lawyer
Understand the terms of your retainer agreement
Your retainer agreement is a legally binding document that outlines the terms of your relationship with your lawyer.
It is important to carefully read and fully understand the terms of your retainer agreement to ensure that you are fully protected. Some key items to consider include:
- Scope of services: Your retainer agreement should clearly define the scope of services your lawyer will provide, including what they will do and what they will not do. This will help ensure that you and your lawyer are on the same page regarding the scope of work and can help prevent misunderstandings.
- Fees and expenses: Your retainer agreement should specify how much you will pay your lawyer for their services and any other expenses associated with your case. This should include any hourly rates, fixed fees, and other charges that may be incurred. Make sure you fully understand the fee structure and any associated costs.
- Disbursements: Your retainer agreement should outline how disbursements, such as filing fees and other expenses, will be handled. Make sure you understand who will be responsible for paying these expenses and how they will be billed to you.
- Handling of settlement funds: Your retainer agreement should specify how settlement funds will be handled and who will have access to them. This is especially important to ensure that your funds are protected from theft.
Make sure you understand the terms of your retainer agreement, by doing that you can minimize the risk of having your settlement stolen by your lawyer and ensure that your rights are protected.
If you have any questions or concerns about the terms of your retainer agreement, don’t hesitate to ask your lawyer for clarification.
Monitor the progress of your case
Keeping track of the progress of your case is crucial in preventing settlement theft by lawyers. Here are some specific steps you can take:
- Ask for regular updates: Regularly check in with your lawyer to get updates on your case. You should be able to easily access information about the status of your case, including any new developments or filings. You may do this through emails or letters. Check these samples letter to a lawyer regarding case to get started started
- Keep records: Maintain accurate records of all communications with your lawyer, including phone calls, emails, and in-person meetings. This will help you track the progress of your case and identify any potential issues.
- Review statements and invoices: Regularly review statements and invoices from your lawyer to ensure they are accurate and reflect all of the expenses related to your case. This will also help you detect any discrepancies or unauthorized charges.
- Request detailed information: If you have any concerns or questions about your case, don’t hesitate to ask your lawyer for more detailed information. This may include a breakdown of expenses, a summary of work performed, or a copy of any legal documents.
When you effectively monitor the progress of your case, you can easily detect potential problems early on and take prompt action to address them.
This will help ensure that your settlement is handled correctly and that your rights are protected.
Maintaining accurate records of all transactions related to your case is crucial for preventing settlement theft by lawyers.
This includes recording all payments made to your lawyer, expenses incurred, and any other financial transactions related to your case.
Keeping detailed records of all communications with your lawyer, including emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings, is also important.
Having these records readily available will help you track the progress of your case and quickly identify any potential problems.
In the event that your lawyer does steal your settlement, having detailed records will strengthen your case and help you pursue legal action.
It’s a good idea to keep a physical file with all your records, as well as an electronic copy in a secure location.
Consider using a password-protected cloud storage service to keep your records safe and accessible.
Regularly reviewing your records and comparing them to statements provided by your lawyer can help you stay on top of your case and detect any suspicious activity.
If you notice any discrepancies, take prompt action to address the issue with your lawyer.
If necessary, seek the advice of a trusted legal professional to help you navigate your options.
The final step in preventing settlement theft by lawyers is to be vigilant.
You need to be aware of any red flags that may indicate that your lawyer is not acting in your best interest.
Here are a few things to look out for:
- Sudden changes in behavior: If your lawyer is suddenly evasive or unresponsive when you try to communicate with them, it could be a sign that something is not right. This is especially true if you have previously had a good working relationship with your lawyer.
- Excuses: If your lawyer is constantly making excuses for not providing information or updates, it may indicate that they are not acting in your best interest. This is a major red flag that you should not ignore.
- Lack of progress: If you feel like your case is not moving forward, despite regular check-ins with your lawyer, it may be time to start asking questions. Your lawyer should be able to provide you with regular updates on the progress of your case.
If you notice any of these red flags, it’s important to take immediate action.
You may need to reach out to the state bar association or consider filing a complaint or lawsuit against your lawyer.
The most important thing is to take action quickly to protect your rights and your settlement.
FAQ about lawyer steal settlement
Is it common for lawyers to steal settlements?
Unfortunately, cases of lawyers stealing settlements do occur. However, it is important to note that these incidents are relatively rare and that the vast majority of lawyers are trustworthy and ethical.
What should I do if I suspect my lawyer stole my settlement?
If you suspect that your lawyer has stolen your settlement, it is important to take prompt action. Your first step should be to gather all relevant documentation and evidence. Then, you should consider filing a complaint with the state bar association, pursuing a civil lawsuit, or pursuing criminal charges. Seeking the guidance of a trusted legal professional can help you navigate the legal process and understand your options.
How can I prevent my settlement from being stolen by my lawyer?
To reduce your risk of falling victim to settlement theft by a lawyer, it is important to take preventative measures such as hiring a reputable lawyer, understanding the terms of your retainer agreement, and monitoring the progress of your case. By being proactive, you can increase your chances of avoiding this type of fraudulent behavior.
What legal options are available to me if my lawyer stole my settlement?
If your lawyer has stolen your settlement, your legal options may include filing a complaint with the state bar association, pursuing a civil lawsuit, or pursuing criminal charges. The best course of action will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.
Can I sue my lawyer for stealing my settlement?
Yes, you may be able to sue your lawyer for stealing your settlement. This can be done through a civil lawsuit, where you can seek damages for the stolen funds.
How long do I have to take legal action if my lawyer stole my settlement?
The amount of time you have to take legal action will depend on the statute of limitations for your state. This can vary based on the type of legal action you are pursuing, so it is important to seek the guidance of a trusted legal professional as soon as possible.
What evidence do I need to prove that my lawyer stole my settlement?
The evidence required to prove that a lawyer has stolen a settlement will vary based on the specific circumstances of the case. However, this may include documentation related to the settlement agreement, bank records, and other relevant financial records.
Can I file a complaint with the state bar association if my lawyer stole my settlement?
Yes, you can file a complaint with the state bar association if you suspect that your lawyer has stolen your settlement. This is a common first step in seeking justice and holding the lawyer accountable for their actions.
In this blog post, we discussed the issue of a lawyer stealing your settlements and provided an overview of the legal options available for you to handle this unfortunate situation.
It is important for you to understand your rights and the steps you can take to protect yourself from such fraudulent behavior.
Taking prompt action is crucial in ensuring that justice is served and that the stolen funds are returned to you as soon as possible
It is also essential to take preventative measures by hiring a reputable lawyer, understanding the terms of the retainer agreement, and monitoring the progress of the case.
By being proactive, you can reduce their risk of falling victim to settlement theft by lawyers.