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Bar News - November 13, 2009

NHBA Public Protection Fund: Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Report Summary

During the fiscal year ending May 31, 2009, the Public Protection Fund of the New Hampshire Bar Association approved $542,188.81 in claims arising from the defalcations of one attorney. Under the current claims-payment limits of Supreme Court Rule 55, the Fund paid $150,000, the maximum amount allowable under the cap.

At year-end, the fund had a balance of $2,149,216.02, with six claims pending. Four claims, against the same attorney, were filed in the last quarter of the reporting year. Two additional claims, filed in a prior year, are pending because the attorneys involved have not yet been suspended or disbarred. Based on the current claims payment restrictions, the maximum potential exposure to the Fund for these claims is $450,000. [See article regarding impending rule change.]

The fund received $189,845 in assessments during the year and earned $30,688.76 in interest on deposits. By order of the NH Supreme Court, $122,380 of the Public Protection Fund assessment last year was designated for the initial year of the Lawyers Assistance Program. The Fund incurred $7,163.21 in direct and indirect operating costs.

The report was submitted by Kevin G. Collimore, Chair.

The complete 2009 Annual Report and other information about the PPF are found on the Public Protection Fund page on the Bar's website.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court, through Rule 55, created the Public Protection Fund to provide some reimbursement to clients whose disciplined lawyers have stolen their funds. Assessments of New Hampshire attorneys and judges provide the entire support for the fund. No taxpayer dollars are used.

The Public Protection Fund was established ". . . To provide a public service and to promote confidence in the administration of justice and the integrity of the legal profession by providing some measure of reimbursement to victims who have lost money or property. . ." (Rule 55) because of theft or misappropriation by a New Hampshire attorney, and occurring in New Hampshire during the course of a client-attorney or fiduciary relationship."

The Fund is administered by a special committee of the New Hampshire Bar Association, under the general oversight of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

The members of the committee are:
Kevin Collimore, Chair;
Thomas Quarles, Jr., Vice Chair
Keith Diaz
Charles Grau
Jay Haines
Sandra Keans
Roland Morneau, Jr.
(2 vacancies)
Thomas Manter, Finance Director of the New Hampshire Bar Association, is the staff liaison to the committee.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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