NEWBURY — A local attorney’s decision to represent a fraud victim free of charge after his first attorney bilked him out of thousands of dollars has earned him the gratitude of the state Supreme Judicial Court.
This morning, SJC Justice Francis X. Spina was to present Timothy Perry the coveted William J. LeDoux Award at a ceremony inside the John Adams Courthouse in downtown Boston.
The award, created in 1997, honors an attorney who, serving pro bono, has demonstrated outstanding legal work in representing a client before the court’s Client Security Board.
An experienced litigator, Perry is a founding partner of Perry, Krumsiek & Dolan, LLP, of Boston. Originally from Andover, Perry became a lawyer in 1995 and helped establish the firm in 2002.
He recently represented a client who was in charge of a $2 million estate. His client had recently been swindled by former attorney Bruce Sachar, who was disbarred in 2009 after misappropriating $47,500 in unearned legal fees and then stealing the proceeds of a $75,000 unsecured no-interest loan, according to the SJC.
During his career, Perry has conducted jury trials at all levels of the state and has represented clients in federal district courts in Massachusetts and several other judicial districts.
Established by the SJC in 1974, the Clients’ Security Board reimburses clients who have been victimized by attorney misappropriation of funds. Comprised of seven attorneys who volunteer their time, the board hands out the William J. LeDoux Award only when an attorney’s actions merits it.
Perry, the married father of three children, said he was taken by surprise by the announcement.
“I didn’t know it existed until I got the phone call. I’m humbled by it,” Perry said.
Perry said his client had hired him in an attempt to complete the work of Sachar, who oversaw his victim’s estate. Over the years, Sachar ran into financial difficulties and began siphoning money out of the estate without his client’s knowledge.
Attorneys overseeing large estates aren’t typically monitored by clients on a daily basis, as a great deal of trust is expected. But in this case, the attorney began having personal issues that made the funds too tempting a target.
“Unfortunately, that happens from time to time,” Perry said.
First, Perry explained his client’s situation to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers as they worked toward suing Sachar and pursuing further legal action. But upon learning that Sachar had already been disbarred and declared bankruptcy, Perry’s client had little hope of recouping his money.
That prompted Perry to reach out to the Client Security Board, which oversees the SJC program called “Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts.” The program mandates that lawyers and law firms establish interest-bearing accounts for client deposits. Through these deposits, the Client Security Board is able to aid victims of attorney malfeasance.
In return for access to the fund, Perry represented his client for free and withdrew any claim for a part of any settlement. Perry estimated it took about 100 billing hours to reach a settlement for his client. As he typically bills between $300 and $400 per hour, Perry turned down more than $30,000 to help his client.
By foregoing any compensation, Perry said it was a way for lawyers to give back to the public and to protect the good name of most attorneys.
“It helps the client become whole but it also helps the profession,” Perry said. “I’m happy it turned out the right way.”