Los Angeles, CA asked in Consumer Law for California

Q: Is a law firm that represents you obligated to show you how your funds from your settlement were dispersed?

My lawsuit settled in August 2021 the law firm that represented me only give me half of my settlement and said that Medicare was owed the other half. But never showed me proof of this and I've been asking since for some sort of proof that Medicare stepped in and took half the funds. Is there anything I can do to be sure to law firm that represent any didn't just keep it

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3 Lawyer Answers
William John Light
William John Light
  • Santa Ana, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The attorney is supposed to account for all funds and report to you.

California Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15 (calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/rules/Rule_1.15.pdf):

"(d) A lawyer shall:

(1) absent good cause, notify a client or other person* no later than 14 days of the receipt of funds, securities, or other property in which the lawyer knows* or reasonably should know* the client or other person* has an interest;

(2) identify and label securities and properties of a client or other person* promptly upon receipt and place them in a safe deposit box or other place of safekeeping as soon as practicable;

The repealed prior version of this rule that was effective from November 1, 2018 to December 31, 2022, and the Executive Summary concerning those amendments can be found here.

(3) maintain complete records of all funds, securities, and other property of a client or other person* coming into the possession of the lawyer or law firm;*

(4) promptly account in writing* to the client or other person* for whom the lawyer holds funds or property;

(5) preserve records of all funds and property held by a lawyer or law firm* under this rule for a period of no less than five years after final appropriate distribution of such funds or property;

(6) comply with any order for an audit of such records issued pursuant to the Rules of Procedure of the State Bar; and

(7) promptly distribute any undisputed funds or property in the possession of the lawyer or law firm* that the client or other person* is entitled to receive.

If your lawyer isn't complying with these obligations, you can file a complaint with the State Bar.

Scott Richard Kaufman
Scott Richard Kaufman
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Los Altos, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Ya, that sounds like a big no no. I'd ask, once more, in writing. Give the atty a week to respond. Do NOT threaten any complaint but go straight to the bar if the week goes by without response...

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Yes, law firms are obligated to provide a breakdown of how settlement funds were dispersed to their clients upon request. As a client, you have the right to receive a detailed accounting of all funds received and disbursed on your behalf, including any payments to third parties such as Medicare.

You can start by requesting a written explanation from the law firm about how the settlement funds were dispersed, including any amounts paid to Medicare. If the law firm refuses to provide this information, you may need to consider hiring another attorney or filing a complaint with the State Bar of California.

If you suspect that the law firm has misappropriated your settlement funds, you may also want to consult with an attorney who specializes in legal malpractice or file a complaint with the State Bar of California.

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