The State Legislature has given the New York Lawyers' Fund a broad mission: to protect
legal consumers from dishonest conduct in the practice of law, to preserve the integrity
of the bar, to safeguard the good name of lawyers for their honesty in handling client
money, and to promote public confidence in the administration of justice in the Empire
The Trustees of the Lawyers' Fund attempt to secure these goals by reimbursing client
money that is misused in the practice of law. But there are other efforts as well.
Principal among them is the development of proposals to change legal practices that
provide opportunities for dishonest practitioners to exploit the trust of clients.
Other efforts focus on helping lawyers comply with their fiduciary and escrow obligations.
The Trustees also develop consumer education programs with the hope that informed
clients will avoid situations and transactions with lawyers that can result in losses.
In these efforts, the Lawyers' Fund serves as a helpmate to the courts of New York
in shielding the integrity of the justice system and the honor and reputation of
the lawyers who serve as its officers.
Typical losses reimbursed by the Lawyers' Fund include the theft of estate and trust
assets, escrow deposits in real property transactions, settlements in personal injury
litigation, debt collection receipts, money embezzled in investment transactions
with law clients, and unearned fees paid in advance to lawyers who falsely promise
their legal services.
There is a $400,000 maximum limit, per law client loss, on awards from the Fund,
fixed by regulation of the Trustees. There is no aggregate maximum on awards involving
Who We Are
The Fund’s Mission
The Board of Trustees
Section 468-b of the Judiciary Law provides for the fund's administration, and section
97-t of the State Finance Law governs the management of the Fund's assets as a special
trust account in the State Treasury. Both statutes vest full management authority
in a Board of Trustees appointed by the judges of the New York State Court of Appeals.
The Trustees serve renewable terms of three years, and without compensation for their
services. Since the Fund's organization in 1981, the Court of Appeals has maintained
a panel with a mix of five practicing lawyers and two community and business leaders
who are not members of the bar.
The Board's officers are a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Treasurer. The Fund's Executive
Director serves as the Board's Secretary and its Counsel.
Eric A. Seiff, is Chariman of the Board and resides in the Bronx. He is a partner
in the Manhattan Law firm of Seiff, Kretz & Abercrombie. Mr. Seiff is a graduate
of Yale University and the Columbia University Law School (1958).
Patricia L. Gatling, of Manhattan, is Vice-Chair of the Board and the former Commissioner
and Chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Ms. Gatling was appointed
to the Board in November 2008. Ms. Gatling is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University
and the University of Maryland School of Law. (1982).
Charlotte G. Holstein of Syracuse. Mrs. Holstein is a civic leader, founder and Executive
Director of F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse, a community interest group. She is a a graduate
of Brockport State University (1946) and 1998 recipient of an honorary Doctor of
Humane Letters from LeMoyne College.
Timothy J. O'Sullivan of Albany is the Executive Director and Counsel of the Lawyers'
Fund. He is a graduate of LeMoyne College and the Albany Law School of Union University.
Peter A. Bellacosa of Manhattan is the Fund’s Treasurer, and a partner in the litigation
group of the Kirkland and Ellis law firm. He is a graduate of Georgetown University
(1985) and St. John’s University Law School (1988).
Anthony J. Baynes of Williamsville, Erie County, is the founder and current Chairman
of the AJ Baynes Group, a Buffalo based development and logistics company. Mr. Baynes
is a graduate of Buffalo State College (1979).
Stuart M. Cohen of Rensselaer County served for 14 years as the Clerk of the Court
of Appeals. Mr. Cohen is a graduate of Connecticut College and New York University
School of Law (1979). He is a sole practitioner in Rensselaer concentrating on appellate
Lisa L. Hutchinson of Farmingdale, Nassau County, is a partner in the Farmingdale
law firm of Guercio & Guercio. Ms. Hutchinson was appointed to the Board in October
2016. Ms. Hutchinson is a graduate of the State University of New York, Albany and
the University of Pennsylvania Law School.