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CLIENT PROTECTION PROGRAM


The Purpose of the Program
Covered Losses
Non-Covered Losses
How Claims are Processed
Filing a Claim

Program Rules

Client Protection Program Claim Forms:

The ARDC’s Chicago and Springfield offices are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Staff is working remotely. At this time, we are accepting Client Protection Claim forms via email to information@iardc.org. Alternatively, forms may be submitted by fax to 312-565-2320 or by regular mail to:


ARDC
One Prudential Plaza
130 E. Randolph Dr., Ste. 1500
Chicago, IL 60601-6219.

The Purpose of the Program

The Client Protection Program of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) was established by the Supreme Court of Illinois to provide reimbursement to clients who have lost money or property because of dishonest conduct by lawyers admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois. The Program reimburses clients who cannot get reimbursement from the lawyers who caused their losses, or from other sources such as insurance.

The legal profession depends upon the public’s trust. The Client Protection Program is an example of the profession’s efforts to deserve and maintain that trust, by helping clients recover losses caused by the wrongful acts of a few lawyers who fall short of their professional obligations.

The Program is funded by the annual registration fees paid by Illinois lawyers. No tax money is used. The Program is administered by the ARDC. The Commissioners, four lawyers and three public members, are appointed by the Supreme Court of Illinois. They serve as a public service without compensation.

Covered Losses

You may be eligible for payment from the Program if: 

  • you experienced a loss of money or property as the result of the intentional dishonesty of a lawyer;

  • the lawyer wrongfully took, used, or withheld your money or property;

  • your loss occurred while the lawyer was acting as your lawyer or in a fiduciary capacity related to the practice of law (e.g., trustee, guardian, administrator, or escrow agent);

  • the lawyer has been disciplined by the Supreme Court of Illinois (e.g., disbarred, suspended, placed on probation or censured) or has died; and

  • you have made reasonable efforts to pursue any civil remedies you may have. 

The Program may reimburse losses up to a maximum of $100,000 for each loss, and payouts arising from the conduct of any one lawyer shall not exceed $1,000,000.

Non-Covered Losses

Your claim will not be eligible for payment if:

  • your loss was the result of negligence or malpractice rather than intentional dishonesty;

  • your claim involves a fee dispute, a personal loan to a lawyer, or an ordinary debtor/creditor relationship;

  • your claim is for lost interest or profits, consequential damages, or costs of recovery;

  • the dishonest conduct occurred before January 1, 1984;

  • your claim was filed more than three years after you knew of the dishonest conduct or more than one year after the lawyer was disciplined or died, whichever is later;

  • you are or were the spouse, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, partner, or associate of the lawyer that caused the loss; or

  • your loss can be reimbursed through another source such as an insurance policy or a surety bond.

How Claims are Processed

Shortly after you file a claim, you will receive a letter from the Program acknowledging receipt of your claim. The letter will identify the claim number and will advise you of what to expect during the investigation.

If the involved lawyer has already been disciplined by the Supreme Court of Illinois or has died, we will investigate your claim. We may send a copy of your claim application to the lawyer and ask him to respond to the allegations. We may contact you for additional information. We may conduct further investigation such as reviewing court files and bank records, and interviewing witnesses.

If the lawyer has not been disciplined, or if civil or criminal court proceedings are pending against him, investigation of your claim may be deferred until those proceedings are concluded. Your assistance is critical to our investigation of your claim.

When the investigation has been completed, we will prepare and submit a report and recommendation to the Commission. The Commission will then make a decision on the claim. Copies of the report and the Commission’s decision will be sent to you and the involved lawyer.

If you or the lawyer request reconsideration of the Commission’s decision, the claim will be assigned to a review panel consisting of two lawyers and one non-lawyer. The review panel may hold an informal hearing on the claim. The review panel will prepare its own report for consideration by the Commission. The Commission will then make a final decision on the claim. You and the lawyer will be notified of the final decision.

The amount, timing and conditions of payment are in the discretion of the Commission.

Filing a Claim

If you have any questions about the Program or need assistance in completing the claim form, you may contact the Program’s office at 312/565-2600 or 800/826-8625. Return completed forms by mail or facsimile to:

ARDC

130 E. Randolph Dr., Ste.1500

Chicago, IL 60601-6219

FAX: (312) 565-2320

There is no fee or other cost to file a claim with the Program.

   
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