Michael Knight ’90 was recently named Executive Director and Counsel of the New York Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, an independent public trust fund financed by New York’s legal profession that reimburses clients of lawyers who suffered financial losses caused by the dishonest conduct of their attorney.
Knight has worked with the Lawyers’ Fund for 28 years—he was the Fund’s Deputy Counsel for the past 18 years—and is only the third executive director and counsel in the Fund’s 35-year history.
“I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such a unique and rewarding organization," said Knight. "The Lawyers’ Fund and its Trustees truly reflect the best of the legal profession and its commitment to protecting legal consumers and preserving the integrity of the bar.”
The principal source of revenue for the Lawyers’ Fund is a $30 per year contribution from the attorney registration fee paid by New York State lawyers. The Fund does not receive any money from taxpayers or any funds from the Interest on Lawyer Accounts program (IOLA).
The Fund reimburses law clients whose lawyers have misappropriated or wilfully misapplied their funds from real estate transactions, estate or trusts, litigation settlement proceeds, money embezzled from law clients in investment transactions, and unearned legal fees accepted by a lawyer who falsely promised to render legal services. Last year the Lawyers’ Fund granted 215 awards totaling $10.6 million in reimbursement to eligible law clients. This was the second highest pay out in its existence.
“My tenure with the Lawyers’ Fund began in 1990 after completing a third-year legislative seminar class at Albany Law School," he said. "The seminar’s adjunct professor asked me two things: would I organize a year-end pizza party for the class and did I have a job after graduation. That Professor was the Fund’s first Executive Director, Frederick Miller ‘65. The pizza party was terrific and my interview with then, Deputy Counsel Tim O’Sullivan apparently went well, too.”
Knight succeeds Timothy J. O’Sullivan ’86 who retired after 34 years of service to the Fund, including the past 19 years as Executive Director and Counsel.