The Indiana State Bar Association announced on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, that it will provide $50,000 in client assistance funds to reimburse clients of recently suspended Carmel attorney, Sarah Nagy, according to a report by RTV Channel 6.
A total of 19 clients will be reimbursed a sum determined by the Indiana State Bar Association. These client had provided Nagy money for legal services that were never utilized prior to her suspension. These clients paid Nagy money for their cases, but years later, their legal matters still remain unresolved.
Attorney Sarah Nagy was suspended after facing disciplinary actions for not paying her attorney registration fees and not complying with her continuing legal education, as well as disability, according to RTV6.
The Indiana State Bar Association Client Financial Assistance program has allocated $50,000 to give to Nagy’s clients. This amount is the maximum amount allowed per single attorney.
The official page for the Clients Financial Assistance Fund states: “The Clients’ Financial Assistance Fund of the Indiana State Bar Association provides compensation, as a matter of grace, and not as a right, to qualified applicants who have suffered a monetary loss as a result of dishonest acts of an Indiana lawyer, acting either as a lawyer or as a fiduciary. No client or member of the public shall have any right in the Fund as a third-party beneficiary or otherwise; instead any award from the Fund depends upon the sole discretion of the ISBA, according to its rules and regulations. This Fund, which exists because of the voluntary contributions of the members of ISBA, recognizes that the lawyers of Indiana as a whole desire to help those who fall victim to the few lawyers who are dishonest.”
The Indiana State Bar Association’s Web site has the appropriate application to receive financial assistance, but they do warn that this process is not a quick one and applicants should be patient.
“ISBA members voluntarily contribute $2 of their annual membership dues to this fund each year,” said Carissa Long, public relations director for ISBA told RTV Channel 6. “It is important for the public to note that this is not a government program, but rather, just a bunch of lawyers doing the right thing. There is no claim of right to money.”
Nagy reportedly told the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission that she had been disabled with lupus since being diagnosed in August 2010 and has been unable to complete legal work for her clients since spring 2011. Nagy was suspended in June 2012.
While suspended, Nagy will not be able to practice law, but she can apply for reinstatement. Nagy has not done that, Indiana Supreme Court spokeswoman, Kathryn Dolan, told RTV6.
The Supreme Court has discretion on how it will discipline an attorney facing an action. It rarely disbars an attorney, but this does happen usually when an attorney has committed a crime, such as theft. When allegations are made, the complaint against that attorney and the investigation are not public record. Nagy is not facing any criminal charges.
The Indiana Professional Rules of Conduct for attorneys state that, upon termination of representation, a lawyer must take the steps to the extent reasonable practicable to protect his client’s interests. This can include surrendering paper and property to which the client has rights and refunding any advance payment of fee, retainer or expense that has not yet been used.
Dolan told RTV6 that the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission receives approximately 1,500 complaints against attorneys each year. About 40 percent of these have merit.