Monday, August 2, 2010

Ohio Changes Unauthorized Practice Rules

The Ohio Supreme Court has announced changes in its enforcement regime for unauthorized practice:

Under changes to the Supreme Court of Ohio Rule governing the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL), the Ohio Attorney General will be authorized to investigate and prosecute UPL cases starting Sept. 1. Justices concurred 7-0 in adopting the amendments.

The revisions to Section 4 of Rule VII of the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio will 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 anticipates that the Attorney General’s Office will prosecute one or two complex UPL cases annually. The current rule only authorized Disciplinary Counsel and bar associations with UPL committees to initiate UPL cases.

Other changes to Rule VII include:

  • Revising the definition of UPL.
  • 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.
  • Making non-substantive changes to conform with the Court’s Rule Drafting Manual.

The 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 an attorney suspended for failure to meet registration requirements may be referred for investigation to the UPL board.)

The announcement is linked here. (Mike Frisch)



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