Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ohio May Change Unauthorized Practice Rules

The Ohio Supreme Court has asked for public comment on proposed revisions to its rules governing unauthorized practice. The court's web page summarizes the proposals:

Under changes proposed to the Supreme Court of Ohio Rule governing the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL), the Ohio Attorney General would be authorized to investigate and prosecute certain complex UPL cases. The Supreme Court will accept public comment until April 13 on the proposed amendments. Justices concurred 7-0 in publishing the amendments for public comment.

If amended, Section 2 of Rule VII of the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio would provide caseload assistance for the volunteer attorneys who investigate and prosecute UPL cases on behalf of bar associations, according to Michelle Hall, Attorney Services Counsel at the Supreme Court. She anticipated that if the Court adopts the proposed amendments, the Attorney General’s Office would prosecute one or two complex UPL cases annually. The current rule only authorizes Disciplinary Counsel and bar associations with UPL committees to initiate UPL cases.

Other proposed changes to Rule VII include:

  • Adding a second non-attorney commissioner to the UPL board
  • Authorizing the annual election of a chair and vice chair of the UPL board
  • Refining the procedure for requesting a consent decree or settlement agreement
  • Revising the definition of UPL
  • Making non-substantive changes to conform with the Court’s Rule Drafting Manual

The proposed amendments also call for one change to Gov.Bar R. VI (Registration of Attorneys) since the revised definition of UPL would identify the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline as the proper venue for UPL complaints against suspended attorneys. (Gov.Bar R. VI currently says a suspended attorney may be referred for investigation to the UPL board.)

(Mike Frisch)


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