Friday, December 29, 2017
From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court
The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct has issued two new ethics guides to assist the bar and bench with issues commonly faced when changing law firms or leaving the practice of law when becoming a judge.
The Ethics Guide on Switching Law Firms provides guidance on ethical issues that must be addressed when a lawyer switches from one law firm to another. The guide emphasizes the importance of protecting clients’ interests and ensuring clients have the right to choose who represents them. The guide provides practical ethics advice on issues such as confidentiality, notice to clients, and conflicts of interest. The guide includes sample forms for lawyers and law firms to use when a lawyer changes firms.
The Ethics Guide on Transition from the Practice of Law to the Bench addresses the necessary steps an incoming judge must take to wind up his or her legal practice and prepare for the role of judge. The first steps outlined by the guide focus on the duties owed to clients to ensure that their ongoing matters, files, and property are timely and properly transitioned to new counsel. The guide references financial and practical matters related to the receipt of earned fees and settlement proceeds, retirement and partnership benefits, as well as the sale of a law practice. The guide also details whether a new judge should consider recusal in light of appearances by former partners, associates, clients, and defendants.
These new guides mark the third and fourth ethics guides issued by the Board of Professional Conduct. Earlier this year, the Board issued the Ethics Guide on Succession Planning and, in 2016, the Board issued the Ethics Guide on File Retention. Ethics Guides provide nonbinding advice from the staff of the Board based on frequent inquiries from the Ohio bench and bar.