Client Protection Program

The Client Protection Program of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) was established by the Supreme Court of Illinois to reimburse clients for losses caused by dishonest conduct of Illinois lawyers or involving unearned, unrefunded fees paid to Illinois lawyers who later died or were transferred to disability inactive status. The Program reimburses clients who cannot get reimbursement from the lawyers who caused their losses, or from other sources such as insurance.

The legal profession depends upon the public’s trust. The Client Protection Program is an example of the profession’s efforts to deserve and maintain that trust, by helping clients recover losses caused by the wrongful acts of a few lawyers who fall short of their professional obligations, or resulting from the death or disability of a lawyer.

The Program is funded by the annual registration fees paid by Illinois lawyers. No tax money is used. The Program is administered by the ARDC. The ARDC’s Commissioners, four lawyers and three public members, are appointed by the Supreme Court of Illinois. They serve as a public service without compensation.

Loss & Claim Information

Loss & Claim Information

You may be eligible for payment from the Program if:
  • your lawyer died or was transferred to inactive status, and unearned legal fees paid to the lawyer have not been refunded; or
  • you experienced a loss of money or property as the result of the intentional dishonesty of a lawyer; and
  • the lawyer wrongfully took, used, or withheld your money or property; and
  • your loss occurred while the lawyer was acting as your lawyer or in a fiduciary capacity related to the practice of law (e.g., trustee, guardian, administrator, or escrow agent); and
  • the lawyer has been disciplined by the Supreme Court of Illinois (e.g., disbarred, suspended, placed on probation or censured) or has died; and
  • you have made reasonable efforts to pursue any civil remedies you may have.
The Program may reimburse losses up to a maximum of $100,000 for each loss, and payouts arising from the conduct of any one lawyer shall not exceed $1,000,000.
Your claim will not be eligible for payment if:
  • your loss was the result of negligence or malpractice rather than intentional dishonesty or the death or disability of the lawyer;
  • your claim involves a fee dispute, a personal loan to a lawyer, or an ordinary debtor/creditor relationship;
  • your claim is for lost interest or profits, consequential damages, or costs of recovery;
  • the dishonest conduct occurred before January 1, 1984;
  • your claim was filed more than three years after you knew of the loss or more than one year after the lawyer was disciplined or died, whichever is later;
  • you are or were the spouse, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, partner, or associate of the lawyer that caused the loss; or
  • your loss can be reimbursed through another source such as an insurance policy or a surety bond.
Shortly after you file a claim, you will receive a letter from the Program acknowledging receipt of your claim. The letter will identify the claim number and will advise you of what to expect during the investigation.

If the involved lawyer has already been disciplined by the Supreme Court of Illinois or has died, we will investigate your claim. We may send a copy of your claim application to the lawyer and ask the lawyer to respond to the allegations. We may contact you for additional information. We may conduct further investigation, such as reviewing court files and bank records, and interviewing witnesses.

If the lawyer has not been disciplined, or if civil or criminal court proceedings are pending against the lawyer, investigation of your claim may be deferred until those proceedings are concluded. Your assistance is critical to our investigation of your claim.

When the investigation has been completed, we will prepare and submit a report and recommendation to the Commission. The Commission will then make a decision on the claim. Copies of the report and the Commission’s decision will be sent to you and to the involved lawyer, if the lawyer is not deceased.

If you or the lawyer request reconsideration of the Commission’s decision, the claim will be assigned to a review panel consisting of two lawyers and one non-lawyer. The review panel may hold an informal hearing on the claim. The review panel will prepare its own report for consideration by the Commission. The Commission will then make a final decision on the claim. You will be notified of the final decision.

The amount, timing and conditions of payment are in the discretion of the Commission.
If you have any questions about the Program or need assistance in completing the claim form, you may contact the Program’s office at (312) 565-2600 or (800) 826-8625. Return completed forms by email, by postal mail or facsimile to:

130 E. Randolph Dr., Ste.1500
Chicago, IL 60601-6219
Fax: (312) 565-2320

There is no fee or other cost to file a claim with the Program.