On January 10, 2017, a West Hempstead attorney, David Frankel, age 52, pleaded guilty to stealing approximately $5,700,000 from 7 real estate clients over the course of 15 months. Worse he spent it all on failed real estate investments. All clients concerned thought there money was safely deposited into an attorney's escrow account. The Nassau County DA recommends that the attorney be given a 5 to 15 year sentence and ordered to pay restitution. Having lost his license to practice law, incurred enormous attorney's fees and fines, full restitution from the attorney-thief to his victims is unlikely.
What many people don't know is that someone like this attorney has no legal malpractice insurance. There is no law requiring attorneys to purchase professional liability insurance. Even if the attorney-thief did carry legal malpractice insurance, such coverage does not apply to intentional acts of misconduct. If you hired a solo practitioner, like the thief in this article, you probably will never get all your money back. The Lawyer's Fund for Client Protection has been established in New York State to provide some level of compensation to those victims of attorney misconduct for which there is no insurance coverage.See, nylawfund.org