Lori Deveny’s Bar Tab
And the Oregon State Bar’s 33.3% tip
*** Read the latest on the criminal case against Lori Deveny, click here.
There are criminal attorneys, and then there are criminal attorneys. During her 30-year legal career, Lori E. Deveny happened to be both.
She was more prolific at the latter, though, just not very skilled at it. Her breakneck flameout was followed by its staggering aftermath, the full scope of which is just now beginning to be exposed.¹
Deveny resigned without admitting guilt² rather than face an ongoing investigation by her licensor, the Oregon State Bar [OSB]. She currently awaits trial in state and federal courts on 116 counts of forgery, criminal mistreatment, identity theft, aggravated theft, wire and bank fraud, and the usual ensuing failures regarding federal income tax. She spends weekends in jail, and is monitored during the rest of the week.
In nearly all of the state cases, Deveny is accused of having forged her clients’ signatures on insurance settlement releases and stealing most or all of their money— all while stringing those clients along for years, and in at least one instance, a decade.³
Despite her self-disbarment, Deveny continues to monopolize the OSB’s attention, drain their resources, and inflict career damage on any of their staff foolish enough to provide her with cover fire. Even more eyebrow-raising, a judge’s order for the OSB to take immediate possession of Deveny’s practice on October 25, 2018 appears to have been ignored, possibly making the Oregon State Bar a party to theft and fraud.
There is no more covering-up Deveny’s breathtaking criminal career by the OSB or anyone else. All that is left to do is for the legal community — her former friends and colleagues — to pay her considerable Bar tab.
The OSB has a program called the Client Security Fund [CSF], which can and frequently does reimburse victims of dishonest lawyers. The fund only reimburses for the actual losses of clients, up to a maximum of $50,000. The CSF will not compensate for things such as pain and suffering.
The CSF is administered through the OSB’s Office of General Counsel, headed by attorney Amber Hollister, who recently and inexplicably conjured a tableau of mustache-twirling male villains for Deveny to hide behind.
Was it a favor to Deveny, Hollister’s fellow ex-president of the influential specialty Bar group, Oregon Women Lawyers (OWLS)? Or perhaps it was a hysterical overreaction by someone simplistically predisposed to attributing bad actions to gender…
Either way, Hollister’s smokescreen didn’t work, and, as one can imagine, Deveny’s smash-and-grab-fest hit the CSF hard. So much so that the unrelenting avalanche of claims quickly warranted its own color-coded column (pink!) in the CSF’s spreadsheets, visually demolishing Hollister’s dishonest narrative.
As of this writing, 34 CSF claims have been filed against Deveny, totaling $2,562,124.13.
That’s over 2.5 million dollars in actual losses suffered by her former clients. Forget pain. Forget suffering.
The average claim is $75,357 and nearly a third are above the $50,000 payout limit. The largest single claim is $500,000, and a married couple filed two claims totaling $390,000.
In other words, it was the complete, breathtaking disgrace of a formerly well-regarded attorney; and the single worst train wreck in the entire history of the OSB’s Client Security Fund. Ever.
The way the 34 claims are being handled and paid out tells us much about ethics, transparency, and accountability at the Oregon State Bar.
Lori Deveny, like most personal injury attorneys, practiced law using a contingency fee agreement: she got paid a certain percentage of the total amount she negotiated or won from her clients’ adversaries. The percentage was usually 33.3% (one third), or 40% if the matter had to go to trial. It’s an arrangement that all ethical attorneys are fine with.
But what if an attorney ‘earned’ their third through forgery, identity theft, and fraud? Should that attorney still get to ‘keep’ their third, especially in the context of a CSF claim?
According to the Oregon State Bar, the answer to that question is a resounding and mind-boggling YES. According to the OSB, Deveny ‘earned’ her third and her clients will not be reimbursed for her third — even if the clients never agreed to the settlement amount and even if Deveny forged their signatures on the insurance release paperwork.
The issue of Deveny’s 33.3% came up in the CSF claims of her former clients Angela Davis, Jerry Thompson, Laurie Kelly, and Rosemary Minard. In all four of those cases, their losses were calculated at 66.6% of the total settlement amount that Deveny agreed to without their permission. The State of Oregon also believes that all four of those clients were victims of Deveny’s theft, identity theft, and forgery.
All four CSF claims were under the $50,000 limit, and would have been reimbursed for more money if not for the contingency fee issue. Davis, for instance, would have been awarded $35,000 instead of $23,334.50, Kelly would have been awarded $20,000 instead of $13,333.33, etc.
The Oregon State Bar won’t even fully reimburse another former client, Kimberlee Burk, for a settlement that Deveny negotiated months after her resignation.
According to the case summary submitted by Amber Hollister in that matter, Deveny settled Ms. Burk’s 2015 auto accident on November 8, 2018 — two full weeks after the OSB was ordered to take possession of Deveny’s practice, and a week after the OSB added itself as a co-signer to Deveny’s lawyer bank account (IOLTA).⁴
Let that sink in: the fund created to help victims of dishonest Oregon attorneys won’t take the hit for an allegedly dishonest Oregon attorney’s fee agreement, even when that allegedly dishonest Oregon attorney was practicing law without a license.
For sure, there are all kinds of statutes and rules and legit-sounding stuff that makes all of the above legally okay. but in reality, it’s nauseating and the optics are just terrible. It also sadly reinforces everything that everyone⁵ already believes and hates about attorneys: they’re greedy, they lie, they’re criminals, etc.
These 34 claims represent real people who suffered real harm. They are victims that cannot find anyone willing to sue Deveny due to the commonly held view that she is, or is about to become, bankrupt. The CSF program is their best and most appropriate means of getting reimbursed for their losses. It’s what the CSF was built for.⁶
The fact that the Oregon State Bar won’t use their Client Security Fund to fully reimburse those allegedly harmed by the state’s worst attorney disaster ever, that they officially enabled… well, it doesn’t look good, and it certainly doesn’t feel right.
But apparently that’s what the OSB stands for.
The Oregon State Bar declined to comment or speak with me regarding Lori Deveny’s Client Security Fund claims.
¹ There is another ongoing criminal investigations for an even more serious offense, and the bottom of Deveny’s alleged theft/forgery/fraud has not yet been found.
² Can you believe that resigning while under disciplinary investigation without admitting guilt is even a thing?
³ Many of Deveny’s alleged victims suffer from lasting cognitive effects from their accidents, making them easier than usual targets for a serial fraudster attorney.
⁴ Smells like someone stepped in a big pile of liability.
⁵ Sorry, but yes, everyone.
⁶ And the CSF then goes after the dishonest attorney for reimbursement to the fund.