Chapter 4705: ATTORNEYS

4705.01 Practice of law - prohibited acts.

No person shall be permitted to practice as an attorney and counselor at law, or to commence, conduct, or defend any action or proceeding in which the person is not a party concerned, either by using or subscribing the person's own name, or the name of another person, unless the person has been admitted to the bar by order of the supreme court in compliance with its prescribed and published rules. Except as provided in section 4705.09 of the Revised Code or in rules adopted by the supreme court, admission to the bar shall entitle the person to practice before any court or administrative tribunal without further qualification or license. No sheriff shall practice as an attorney at law in any court of this state, and no clerk of the supreme court or court of common pleas, or the deputy of either, shall practice in the particular court of which that person is clerk or deputy. No coroner in a county with a population of one hundred seventy-five thousand one or more who elects not to engage in the private practice of medicine pursuant to section 325.15 of the Revised Code shall practice as an attorney at law during the period in which the coroner may not engage in the private practice of medicine. No judge of any court of record in this state shall engage in the practice of law during the judge's term of office, either by appearing in court, by acting as advisory or consulting counsel for attorneys or others, by accepting employment or acting as an attorney, solicitor, collector, or legal advisor for any bank, corporation, or loan or trust company, or by otherwise engaging in the practice of law in this state, in or out of the courts, except as provided in section 1901.11 of the Revised Code. A judge may complete any business undertaken by the judge in the United States district court, the United States circuit court of appeals, or the supreme court of the United States prior to the judge's election as judge.

Effective Date: 09-30-1997; 08-17-2006

4705.02 Suspension or removal.

The supreme court, court of appeals, or court of common pleas may suspend or remove an attorney at law from office or may give private or public reprimand to him as the nature of the offense may warrant, for misconduct or unprofessional conduct in office involving moral turpitude, or for conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. Such suspension or removal shall operate as a suspension or removal in all the courts of the state. The clerk of court upon such suspension or removal shall send a copy thereof to the supreme court, the court of appeals, and to the federal court of the district in which said attorney resided at the time of trial for such action as is warranted. Judges of such state courts are required to cause proceedings to be instituted against an attorney, when it comes to the knowledge of any judge or when brought to his knowledge by the bar association of the county in which such attorney practices that he may be guilty of any of the causes for suspension, removal, or reprimand.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4705.021 Effect of child support default on license.

(A) As used in this section:

(1) "Disciplinary counsel" means the disciplinary counsel appointed by the board of commissioners on grievances and discipline of the supreme court under the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio.

(2) "Certified grievance committee" means a duly constituted and organized committee of the Ohio state bar association or of one or more local bar associations of the state that complies with the criteria set forth in rule V, section 3 of the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio.

(3) "Child support order" has the same meaning as in section 3119.01 of the Revised Code.

(B) If an individual who has been admitted to the bar by order of the supreme court in compliance with its published rules is determined pursuant to sections 3123.01 to 3123.07 of the Revised Code by a court or child support enforcement agency to be in default under a support order being administered or handled by a child support enforcement agency, that agency may send a notice listing the name and social security number or other identification number of the individual and a certified copy of the court or agency determination that the individual is in default to the secretary of the board of commissioners on grievances and discipline of the supreme court and to either the disciplinary counsel or the president, secretary, and chairperson of each certified grievance committee if both of the following are the case:

(1) At least ninety days have elapsed since the final and enforceable determination of default;

(2) In the preceding ninety days, the obligor has failed to pay at least fifty per cent of the total monthly obligation due through means other than those described in sections 3123.81 to 3123.85 of the Revised Code.

Amended by 129th General AssemblyFile No.28, HB 153, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2011.

Effective Date: 12-13-2002

4705.03 Procedure for suspension or removal.

Before an attorney at law is suspended or removed, or publicly or privately reprimanded, written charges must be filed against him, stating distinctly the grounds of complaint, and a copy thereof, certified by the clerk, under the seal of the court, served upon him. After such service, such attorney shall be allowed a reasonable time to collect and present testimony in his own defense, and he shall be heard by himself or counsel.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4705.04 Appeals.

In case of suspension or removal of an attorney at law by the court of common pleas, an appeal on questions of law may be had to the court of appeals, and the sentence of either the court of common pleas or the court of appeals, may be reviewed on appeal on questions of law in the supreme court. If such suspended or removed attorney shall desire a modification of the decree of suspension or removal, he shall file a written motion therefor in the court which entered such decree.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4705.05 Costs and expenses.

The court in which charges or written motion is filed in accordance with sections 4705.03 and 4705.04 of the Revised Code, shall allow to the persons appointed to file and prosecute the charges, or to resist the modification of any decrees, for their services in either case, a reasonable sum, not exceeding one hundred dollars, to each person, together with the costs and expenses incurred by him in such proceedings. The amounts allowed shall be paid from the county treasury of the county wherein such proceedings are had, upon the warrant of the county auditor. If such charges or motion is filed in the supreme court, such allowances shall be paid from the state treasury.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4705.06 Liability of attorneys.

If a suit is dismissed for the nonattendance of an attorney at law practicing in any court of record, it shall be at his costs, if he has not a just and reasonable excuse. He shall be liable for all damages his client sustains by such dismissal, or any other neglect of his duty, to be recovered in any court of record. Such attorney receiving money for his client, and refusing or neglecting to pay it when demanded, shall be proceeded against in a summary way, on motion, before any court of record, either in the county in which the judgment on which such money has been collected was rendered, or in the county in which such attorney resides, in the same manner and be liable to the same penalties as sheriffs and coroners are for money received on execution.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4705.07 Unauthorized practice.

(A) No person who is not licensed to practice law in this state shall do any of the following:

(1) Hold that person out in any manner as an attorney at law;

(2) Represent that person orally or in writing, directly or indirectly, as being authorized to practice law;

(3) Commit any act that is prohibited by the supreme court as being the unauthorized practice of law.

(B)

(1) The use of "lawyer," "attorney at law," "counselor at law," "law," "law office," or other equivalent words by any person who is not licensed to practice law, in connection with that person's own name, or any sign, advertisement, card, letterhead, circular, or other writing, document, or design, the evident purpose of which is to induce others to believe that person to be an attorney, constitutes holding out within the meaning of division (A)(1) of this section.

(2) Only the supreme court may make a determination that any person has committed the unauthorized practice of law in violation of division (A)(3) of this section.

(C)

(1) If necessary to serve the public interest and consistent with the rules of the supreme court, any person who is authorized to bring a claim before the supreme court that alleges the unauthorized practice of law in violation of division (A)(3) of this section may make a motion to the supreme court to seek interim relief prior to the final resolution of the person's claim.

(2) Any person who is damaged by another person who commits a violation of division (A)(3) of this section may commence a civil action to recover actual damages from the person who commits the violation, upon a finding by the supreme court that the other person has committed an act that is prohibited by the supreme court as being the unauthorized practice of law in violation of that division. The court in which that action for damages is commenced is bound by the determination of the supreme court regarding the unauthorized practice of law and shall not make any additional determinations regarding the unauthorized practice of law. The court in which the action for damages is commenced shall consider all of the following in awarding damages to a person under division (C)(2) of this section:

(a) The extent to which the fee paid for the services that constitute the unauthorized practice of law in violation of division (A)(3) of this section exceeds the reasonable fees charged by licensed attorneys in the area in which the violation occurred;

(b) The costs incurred in paying for legal advice to correct any inadequacies in the services that constitute the unauthorized practice of law in violation of division (A)(3) of this section;

(c) Any other damages proximately caused by the failure of the person performing the services that constitute the unauthorized practice of law to have the license to practice law in this state that is required to perform the services;

(d) Any reasonable attorney's fees that are incurred in bringing the civil action under division (C)(1) or (2) of this section.

(3) Divisions (C)(1) and (2) of this section apply, and may be utilized, only regarding acts that are the unauthorized practice of law in violation of division (A)(3) of this section and that occur on or after the effective date of this amendment.

Effective Date: 09-30-1997; 09-15-2004

4705.08 [Repealed].

Effective Date: 07-01-1996

4705.09 Depositing client funds.

(A)

(1) Any person admitted to the practice of law in this state by order of the supreme court in accordance with its prescribed and published rules, or any law firm or legal professional association, may establish and maintain an interest-bearing trust account, for purposes of depositing client funds held by the attorney, firm, or association that are nominal in amount or are to be held by the attorney, firm, or association for a short period of time, with any bank, savings bank, or savings and loan association that is authorized to do business in this state and is insured by the federal deposit insurance corporation or the successor to that corporation, or any credit union insured by the national credit union administration operating under the "Federal Credit Union Act," 84 Stat. 994 (1970), 12 U.S.C.A. 1751 , or insured by a credit union share guaranty corporation established under Chapter 1761. of the Revised Code. Each account established under this division shall be in the name of the attorney, firm, or association that established and is maintaining it and shall be identified as an IOLTA or an interest on lawyer's trust account. The name of the account may contain additional identifying features to distinguish it from other trust accounts established and maintained by the attorney, firm, or association.

(2) Each attorney who receives funds belonging to a client shall do one of the following:

(a) Establish and maintain one or more interest-bearing trust accounts in accordance with division (A)(1) of this section or maintain one or more interest-bearing trust accounts previously established in accordance with that division, and deposit all client funds held that are nominal in amount or are to be held by the attorney for a short period of time in the account or accounts;

(b) If the attorney is affiliated with a law firm or legal professional association, comply with division (A)(2)(a) of this section or deposit all client funds held that are nominal in amount or are to be held by the attorney for a short period of time in one or more interest-bearing trust accounts established and maintained by the firm or association in accordance with division (A)(1) of this section.

(3) No funds belonging to any attorney, firm, or legal professional association shall be deposited in any interest-bearing trust account established under division (A)(1) or (2) of this section, except that funds sufficient to pay or enable a waiver of depository institution service charges on the account shall be deposited in the account and other funds belonging to the attorney, firm, or association may be deposited as authorized by the Code of Professional Responsibility adopted by the supreme court. The determinations of whether funds held are nominal or more than nominal in amount and of whether funds are to be held for a short period or longer than a short period of time rests in the sound judgment of the particular attorney. No imputation of professional misconduct shall arise from the attorney's exercise of judgment in these matters.

(B) All interest earned on funds deposited in an interest-bearing trust account established under division (A)(1) or (2) of this section shall be transmitted to the treasurer of state for deposit in the legal aid fund established under section 120.52 of the Revised Code. No part of the interest earned on funds deposited in an interest-bearing trust account established under division (A)(1) or (2) of this section shall be paid to, or inure to the benefit of, the attorney, the attorney's law firm or legal professional association, the client or other person who owns or has a beneficial ownership of the funds deposited, or any other person other than in accordance with this section, section 4705.10 , and sections 120.51 to 120.55 of the Revised Code.

(C) No liability arising out of any act or omission by any attorney, law firm, or legal professional association with respect to any interest-bearing trust account established under division (A)(1) or (2) of this section shall be imputed to the depository institution.

(D) The supreme court may adopt and enforce rules of professional conduct that pertain to the use, by attorneys, law firms, or legal professional associations, of interest-bearing trust accounts established under division (A)(1) or (2) of this section, and that pertain to the enforcement of division (A)(2) of this section. Any rules adopted by the supreme court under this authority shall conform to the provisions of this section, section 4705.10 , and sections 120.51 to 120.55 of the Revised Code.

Effective Date: 09-29-1995; 10-01-2005; 04-14-2005

4705.10 Requirements for accounts.

(A) All of the following apply to an interest-bearing trust account established under authority of section 4705.09 of the Revised Code :

(1) All funds in the account shall be subject to withdrawal upon request and without delay, or as soon as is permitted by federal law;

(2) The rate of interest payable on the account shall not be less than the rate paid by the depository institution to regular, nonattorney depositors. Higher rates offered by the institution to customers whose deposits exceed certain time or quantity qualifications, such as those offered in the form of certificates of deposit, may be obtained by a person or law firm establishing the account if there is no impairment of the right to withdraw or transfer principal immediately.

(3) The depository institution shall be directed, by the person or law firm establishing the account, to do all of the following:

(a) Remit interest or dividends, whichever is applicable, on the average monthly balance in the account or as otherwise computed in accordance with the institution's standard accounting practice, less reasonable service charges, to the treasurer of state at least quarterly for deposit in the legal aid fund established under section 120.52 of the Revised Code;

(b) Transmit to the treasurer of state, upon its request, to the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, and the depositing attorney, law firm, or legal professional association upon the attorney's, firm's, or association's request, at the time of each remittance required by division (A)(3)(a) of this section, a statement showing the name of the attorney for whom or the law firm or legal professional association for which the remittance is sent, the rate of interest applied, the accounting period, the net amount remitted to the treasurer of state for each account, the total remitted, the average account balance for each month of the period for which the report is made, and the amount deducted for service charges;

(4) The depository institution shall notify the office of disciplinary counsel or other entity designated by the supreme court on each occasion when a properly payable instrument is presented for payment from the account, and the account contains insufficient funds. The depository institution shall provide this notice without regard to whether the instrument is honored by the depository institution. The depository institution shall provide the notice described in division (A)(4) of this section by electronic or other means within five banking days of the date that the instrument was honored or returned as dishonored. The notice shall contain all of the following:

(a) The name and address of the depository institution;

(b) The name and address of the lawyer, law firm, or legal professional association that maintains the account;

(c) The account number and either the amount of the overdraft and the date issued or the amount of the dishonored instrument and the date returned.

(B)

(1) The statements and reports of individual depositor information made under divisions (A)(3) and (4) of this section are confidential and shall be used only for purposes of administering the legal aid fund and for enforcement of the rules of professional conduct adopted by the supreme court.

(2) A depository institution may charge the lawyer, law firm, or legal professional association that maintains the account with fees associated with producing and mailing a notice required by division (A)(4) of this section but shall not deduct such fees from the interest earned on the account.

Effective Date: 09-29-1995; 10-21-2005

4705.15 Contingent fee agreements.

(A) As used in this section:

(1) "Contingent fee agreement" means an agreement for the provision of legal services by an attorney under which the compensation of the attorney is contingent, in whole or in part, upon a judgment being rendered in favor of or a settlement being obtained for the client and is either a fixed amount or an amount to be determined by a specified formula, including, but not limited to, a percentage of any judgment rendered in favor of or settlement obtained for the client.

(2) "Tort action" means a civil action for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property. "Tort action" includes a product liability claim that is subject to sections 2307.71 to 2307.80 of the Revised Code, but does not include a civil action for damages for a breach of contract or another agreement between persons.

(B) If an attorney and a client contract for the provision of legal services in connection with a claim that is or may become the basis of a tort action and if the contract includes a contingent fee agreement, that agreement shall be reduced to writing and signed by the attorney and the client. The attorney shall provide a copy of the signed writing to the client.

(C) If an attorney represents a client in connection with a claim as described in division (B) of this section, if their contract for the provision of legal services includes a contingent fee agreement, and if the attorney becomes entitled to compensation under that agreement, the attorney shall prepare a signed closing statement and shall provide the client with that statement at the time of or prior to the receipt of compensation under that agreement. The closing statement shall specify the manner in which the compensation of the attorney was determined under that agreement, any costs and expenses deducted by the attorney from the judgment or settlement involved, any proposed division of the attorney's fees, costs, and expenses with referring or associated counsel, and any other information that the attorney considers appropriate.

Effective Date: 01-05-1988

4705.99 Penalty.

Whoever violates division (A)(1) or (2) of section 4705.07 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Effective Date: 09-30-1997; 09-15-2004