The Virginia State Bar has just reported that it's Client Protection Fund has paid out an astonishing $411,165 in claims to former clients of former Virginia personal injury attorney Stephen ("the felon") Conrad.

There's a simple procedure, now being proposed in Virginia, that would have prevented most of this fraud. Its called payee notification and what it says is that if the insurance company sends your lawyer a settlement check of $5,000 or more, they send you a notice that they've paid your lawyer.

Like an old ad I remember: "simple, inexpensive, and it works."

Trouble is, some Virginia lawyers are opposed to this consumer protection statute . In fact, as of this writing the official position of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (of which I am a member) is "opposed."

Sorry, but there's not a consumer out there who thinks that payee notification is a BAD idea.

By the way...who do you think pays for the money that goes into the fund?

The lawyer members of the Virginia State Bar. Who does that cost get passed to? The consumer/client.

Thus, it seems rather simple that a reduction in claims by virtually preventing the type of fraud Conrad engaged in (i.e. he was settling your case and forging your name on checks and never telling you, the client) will reduce the cost of legal services in Virginia.

I'm still waiting to hear the rational basis for the argument against this law...HINT: the basis can't begin "it will hurt our (lawyers) feelings!"
Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized Virginia injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability attorney
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