The Bill does not eliminate any consumer protection programs.
Most importantly, the Bill does not eliminate the best consumer protection program, which is lawyer regulation that disciplines unethical lawyers by taking them out of circulation. Lawyer regulation remains a requirement and a function of the Arizona Supreme Court.
The Bill does not eliminate the Client Protection Fund. The Arizona Supreme Court established the Client Protection Fund in 1961. It is a separate entity from the State Bar. It is controlled by the Court as part of the Court’s regulation of attorneys. The yearly assessments are paid to the Fund by lawyers and are not State Bar dues. So as they have for the past 55 years, Arizona consumers will still be able to file claims for losses caused by the dishonest conduct of a lawyer.
The Bill does not eliminate any conservatorship programs over the practices of lawyers who have died, disappeared or become disabled or disbarred. Any such programs are subject to Arizona Supreme Court rule not the State Bar. And such programs are consistent with the Bill’s provisions concerning enforcing attorney ethical rules and maintaining attorney records.
The Bill does not eliminate the fee dispute arbitration program even though it is a program that less than 1% of lawyers use. Moreover, like almost every State Bar program, the Fee Arbitration Program is staffed almost entirely by volunteer lawyers and public members.
The Bill does not eliminate community programs such as Arizona Stand Down, which is not a State Bar program but an alliance of community-based, unincorporated organizations that come together with hundreds of agencies and thousands of community volunteers to help homeless veterans. Arizona lawyers volunteer for Arizona Stand Down just as they do for the Phoenix 12 News television program, Lawyers On Call. State Bar management likes to take credit for these programs. But they are dependent on the goodwill, time and civic mindedness of Arizona lawyers not on the State Bar.