December 22, 2008
Life After Suspension
The Ohio Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline has issued an advisory opinion concerning the employment limitations of a disqualified or suspended attorney. The web page of the Supreme Court summarizes the opinion as follows:
Opinion 2008-7 covers the employment of a disqualified or suspended attorney and what work that person can perform. The opinion notes that a Supreme Court rule limiting the employment of a disqualified or suspended attorney by another attorney or law firm became effective Sept. 1. Among other restrictions, the rule prohibits a disqualified or suspended attorney from direct client contact or handling client funds. A client must be notified in writing in advance if a disqualified/suspended attorney will perform any work for another attorney on a client’s case.
A disqualified/suspended attorney serving as a receptionist does not violate the restriction on direct client contact, according to the opinion, as long as the contact is limited. The opinion also states that limiting the duties of the disqualified/suspended attorney to serving as a receptionist, mail room clerk, copying services or filing pleadings in court would not invoke the requirement of notifying clients that he or she worked on a client’s case. Performing legal research and writing on client matters, however, would require notifying the client.
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Why should a disbarred lawyer have less rights than an individual who has never been a lawyer? Indeed, how does a court have jurisdiction over someone who is not a member of its bar – whether that person was once a member or never was a member?
The way that the English do this is to place prohibition orders on ex-solicitors and law clerks who have embezzled. Then, it becomes an ethical violation for another solicitor to employ them. At least this solves the jurisdictional issue.
Posted by: FixedWing | Dec 23, 2008 1:08:04 PM