Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 18

ATTORNEY/CLIENT
ARBITRATION BOARD
Founded in 1982, the Attorney/Client Arbitration Board (ACAB) works to resolve
fee disputes between Bar members and their clients or former clients in the
District of Columbia. In 1995 the D.C. Court of Appeals adopted Rule XIII of the
Rules Governing the District of Columbia Bar, making fee arbitration mandatory
for a Bar member if requested by the client.
A request to arbitrate may be filed by either the client or the attorney, and cases
are assigned to a single arbitrator or a three-member panel, depending on the
amount in dispute. Cases are handled in a confidential manner, and decisions
are final and binding.
"The ACAB provides a cost-efficient way to resolve a dispute," says Andrew H.
Marks, a former D.C. Bar president and ACAB volunteer arbitrator. "If you had to
hire private arbitrators or go through the courts, the process would be much
more expensive. For a client, it's beneficial."
The ACAB is composed of 11 volunteer members elected by the Bar's Board of
Governors - seven D.C. Bar members and four nonlawyer professionals - who
may serve two consecutive three-year terms. The ACAB develops polices, periodically reviews and revises the fee arbitration rules of procedure, and appoints arbitrators to the volunteer arbitrator pool. Although the ACAB as a body does not
arbitrate disputes, some of the individual ACAB members also serve as arbitrators
for the fee dispute program or as mediators for the ACAB's Voluntary Mediation
Program, another alternative service for settling fee disputes.
"The quality of the decision making is quite high," Marks says. "The arbitrators,
both lawyers and nonlawyers, work very hard and bring a lot of judgment to
the issues. It's an expeditious process."
Marks was first drawn to the ACAB early in his career. Interested in alternative
dispute resolution, he found that the fee arbitration program was a great way
to build his skills and do work he was passionate about. Marks has served with
the ACAB for more than three decades, both as a member of the board and
as an arbitrator.

''

The arbitrators,
both lawyers
and nonlawyers,
work very hard
and bring a lot
of judgment to
the issues. It's
an expeditious
process.
ANDREW H. MARKS
Law Offices of Andrew
Marks PLLC

18

WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

JUNE 2019

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"I think it's very good for the profession to provide a service that allows clients
who don't have the resources to have a forum where they can be heard and
have their issues resolved without incurring enormous additional costs," Marks
says. "I feel like this is a public service."

CLIENTS' SECURITY FUND
The Clients' Security Fund (CSF) was established in 1972, the same year the D.C.
Bar was formed. Created by the D.C. Court of Appeals both as a safeguard for
clients and as a way to preserve the integrity of the legal profession, the CSF
reimburses clients up to $100,000 per claim for losses caused by the dishonest
conduct of Bar members. Losses may include dishonestly retained money,
property, or other things of value to clients.
The CSF is operated by five volunteer trustees - all Bar members - who
are appointed by the court to serve a five-year term. The trustees typically
convene monthly to discuss pending claims, address policies and procedures,
and review the financial well-being of the fund, which is supported by
member license fees.
"The public is entitled to rely on lawyers' good faith and honesty, and they
should have a place of recourse when that doesn't happen," says Michael
Curtin, a partner at Curtin Law Roberson Dunigan & Salans and former CSF
trustee.
Parties may seek reimbursement from the CSF after utilizing all other available
ways to recover their losses, including reasonable attempts to obtain payment
from the lawyer by demand, insurance, or lawsuit. The application for reimbursement is reviewed by a trustee, who then submits his or her findings to
the committee.
Curtin says the CSF is a necessary service, providing extra protection for the
public. "When trustees are assigned a case, they do their due diligence," he says.
"They study it, they review the facts and claims, talk to the people involved, and
then make their recommendations to the [CSF], which are then accepted,
modified, or rejected."
The CSF works closely with Regulation Counsel staff who keep track of the
docket, handle logistics, explain the process to clients and lawyers, and support
the trustees in their work. Kathleen Lewis, assistant director of the D.C. Bar's
Attorney/Client Relations Program, and her team "make sure the trains run on
time," Curtin says.

LEGAL ETHICS COMMITTEE
The Legal Ethics Committee, composed of 11 Bar members and four nonlawyer professionals, addresses issues concerning the D.C. Rules of Professional
Conduct. The committee studies and publishes formal advisory opinions on
questions that arise under the D.C. Rules.
Michael Sundermeyer, a partner at Williams & Connolly LLP who currently serves
as vice chair of the committee, says committee members come from diverse
backgrounds and bring a wide range of views into the process of interpreting
the rules.
"Committee members have three-year terms, [and] there's a good mix of new
and experienced members, along with lawyers from small and large firms,
lawyers from private and public organizations, and nonlawyer members,"
Sundermeyer says.
The committee is staffed by D.C. Bar legal ethics counsel Hope C. Todd, Saul
Jay Singer, and Erika L. Stillabower, who also field calls to the Bar's Legal Ethics
Helpline, a confidential service that provides informal prospective guidance to
lawyers. The helpline handles more than 2,600 calls annually. Several committee members and ethics counsel also teach continuing legal education
Andrew H. Marks, courtesy of Law Offices of Andrew Marks PLLC


https://www.dcbar.org/

Washington Lawyer - June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - June 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Meet Susan M. Hoffman: 48th President of the D.c. Bar
Regulation Counsel: Ensuring the Highest Ethical Standards
Disciplinary Counsel: Acting on Misconduct Charges
Life After Disciplinary Action
Bar Business: Budget Report
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Rule Updates: Rule 49 on Pro Bono Attorneys
Disciplinary Summaries
Special Coverage: 2019 Judicial & Bar Conference
Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Meet Susan M. Hoffman: 48th President of the D.c. Bar
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 14
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Regulation Counsel: Ensuring the Highest Ethical Standards
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 18
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Disciplinary Counsel: Acting on Misconduct Charges
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Life After Disciplinary Action
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 26
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-1
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-2
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-3
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-4
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-5
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-6
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Bar Business: Budget Report
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Rule Updates: Rule 49 on Pro Bono Attorneys
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Special Coverage: 2019 Judicial & Bar Conference
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 48
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Cover4
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