Anthony J. Baynes
For the first time since its inception three decades ago, a board that helps determine fiscal awards to those harmed by poor legal representation has a Buffalo area representative.
Anthony Baynes, AJ Baynes Group chairman and a prominent business leader, has been tapped to join the seven-member New York State Court of Appeals Board of Trustees of the New York Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection.
Baynes was recommended to the board Eugene Pigott Jr., an associate judge for the Court of Appeals. His appointment was unanimously approved with Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman leading the way. Baynes credits both Pigott and Lippman for appointing him to the board. Baynes is one of two non-lawyers on the board. He is serving a three-year term and on a voluntary, pro-bono basis.
“Coming to the board with a business-wise perspective gives it a different view and feel,” Baynes said. The board meets several times each year to review cases where clients allege that legal representation they received resulted in less-than-expected awards. The focus is mainly on legal representation where the attorney, or attorneys, involved may have subsequently been either disbarred or suspended. “It’s not about vindication because someone feels their attorney did get them a high enough award,” Baynes said. “Our focus is on cases where actions by disbarred or suspended attorneys may have hurt their clients.”
The clients are reimbursed through the Lawyers Fund, which itself is funded in part through a portion of the annual legal fees attorneys pay New York to maintain their license.
Last year, the board dealt with issues concerning 46 either suspended, disbarred or deceased lawyers whose actions harmed their clients. A total of $6.9 million was distributed to impacted clients.
Since 1982, when the board was created, 7,068 awards have been granted totaling $158.3 million. Baynes said he is reviewing his first set of cases in preparation for the board’s upcoming Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 meetings.
“Some of these clients need someone out there to watch out for them,” Baynes said. “That’s part of our role.”
Baynes has served on a number of local and statewide boards including serving as a two-year stint as chairman of the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority and as an appointee to the New York State Small Business Advisory Board.