After the claim has been sent to the Fund, it is examined by the Fund trustees with investigative and administrative support from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) staff. A preliminary review is conducted to verify the claim as well as to clarify and elaborate details of the claim.
If the preliminary review shows that the claim does not meet the requirements for reimbursement, the claim is rejected with an explanation. Claims that qualify with the guidelines of the Fund are sent to the attorney involved and are investigated. If necessary, the trustees may also ask for hearings as part of an investigation. After approximately 18 months, the trustees receive a report of the results from which they determine whether the claim has merit and then decide upon the amount that the claimant should receive.
Upon reaching a decision, written notice is provided to the claimant and the attorney whose alleged conduct gave rise to the claim, or their representatives. The claimant and the attorney whose alleged conduct gave rise to the claim may request that the trustees reconsider the determination by filing a written request to the fund no later than 20 days following receipt of the trustees’ decision. If the written request is valid and completed in a timely manner, the trustees will set a date, time and place for a hearing.
The trustees, in their discretion, may limit the scope of any such hearing and will not order any reimbursement from the Fund until after the requested hearing has been concluded. If the claimant or the attorney whose alleged conduct gave rise to the claim fails to request reconsideration, or the original determination of the trustees is confirmed, the trustees’ determination shall be final.
Even when a claim is found to have merit, reimbursement is usually not made until all disciplinary proceedings or other legal actions against the attorney have been completed.