On the surface, the Clients' Security Board Fiscal Year 2014
Report paints a vastly different picture than the year before.
While 2014 saw a 65 percent increase in the number of awards given
(114) over 2013 (69), the total dollar amount of all awards in 2014
($1.3 million) was more than half of what the board had awarded the
The 2014 report caps off a year of hard work and new challenges
for the board, which is tasked with reimbursing those who have been
financially wronged by their attorney. This past year, as it has
every year since 1975, the Clients' Security Board worked
tirelessly to clean up the legal profession from the acts of what
board Vice Chair Francis C. Morrissey called "a few bad
And he's right. Of the 58,485 lawyers in Massachusetts, the
offenses were committed by only 23 attorneys, or .04 percent of the
profession. This year in particular, exactly two-thirds of awards
given out were result of a single attorney in Worcester County:
Rosaleen J. Clayton of Auburn.
These offenses are where the board does its work. Funded entirely
by lawyers in the commonwealth, the Clients' Security Board is "one
of the crown jewels of the profession," according to Morrissey, who
explained that the process in Massachusetts is different from other
states. In Massachusetts, there is no cap on the amount of money a
wronged party can receive and there is no statute of limitations
related to claims.
"The legal community in Massachusetts is very protective of the
integrity of the overall justice system." said Massachusetts Bar
Association Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy. "Attorneys fully
realize that when clients come to an attorney for help they expect
to be treated fairly and not further traumatized. The MBA
wholeheartedly supports compensating those few victims of attorney
theft fully, and in a speedy manner. The trust between the public
and a lawyer is a special bond and needs to be rightfully
safeguarded and never treated casually."
Morrissey said that staff attorneys, such as Karen D. O'Toole,
assistant board counsel, deserve much of the credit for the board's
O'Toole explained that the board had to work at an expedited pace
in 2014 to deal with all the claims related to Clayton's conduct.
During her disciplinary proceedings, Clayton's attorney made
contact with all of Clayton's former clients and wrote to them.
Contained in the letter was the information for the Clients'
Security Board and an instruction that if any of them felt that
they were owed money, to contact attorney O'Toole.
Many of them did. As a result, a record 76 awards were given
According to Morrissey and O'Toole, the relationship between
disciplined attorneys and the board varies from case to case. Some
former attorneys want to try to make amends and see that former
clients receive the compensation they deserve while others
challenge claims for a variety of reasons.
Since each year presents new challenges and every case is
different, it's hard to find any sort of pattern in year-to-year
A pattern has emerged though, and that's a pattern of hard work
and diligent service from the board and its staff attorneys, and a
pattern of dedication to helping those wronged by their attorney in