June 22, 2007
Registration fee to increase July 1
The Supreme Court of Ohio has announced that, beginning July 1, the biennial attorney registration fee will increase by $50. The fee increase will allow more resources to be dedicated to attorney discipline and improving the quality of legal representation in Ohio.
Every two years, all of the approximately 42,000 active attorneys in Ohio are required to register with the Supreme Court. Lawyers who register as active, and those who are admitted in another state but who provide legal services for an employer in Ohio, are also required to pay a biennial registration fee. For the registration period starting July 1, 2007, the fee will go up to $350. With the increase, Ohio will rank 43rd among the 50 states in mandatory licensing/registration fees charged to members of the legal profession.
The money raised from this fee is the primary source of funding for oversight of the bar in Ohio, and the fee increase will help ensure that essential programs can continue to serve the public and the Ohio judiciary. The fee increase is expected to add an additional $2.1 million to the fund, resulting in estimated total registration revenue of about $14.7 million for the 2007-2009 biennium.
About 80 percent of the attorney registration funds spent each year are used to support the disciplinary system and to reimburse clients who have lost money due to attorney misconduct.
The fee increase is supported by many local bar associations across the state, including the Columbus Bar, which asked the Court to consider increasing the fee to ensure the availability of funds to reimburse bar associations for their role in the investigation and prosecution of complaints involving attorney discipline and the unauthorized practice of law by non-lawyers. “We believe the increase is important to sustain the attorney disciplinary system, an important tool in protecting consumers of legal services and in preserving the integrity of the legal system,” notes Columbus Bar President, Nelson Genshaft.
Attorney registration fees also support administrative costs and the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program and the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation. The Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program provides assistance to Ohio attorneys with alcoholism, substance abuse, addictive behavior and psychological problems. The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation administers various funds for Ohio's legal aid societies, which in turn provide civil legal services to meet the needs of Ohio’s poor.
Registration materials will be mailed in early July. Under the Court’s attorney registration procedures, attorneys who do not register for the current biennium by Sept. 1, will receive a noncompliance notice and will be allowed to register by paying a $50 late fee. Those who fail to register by Dec. 1 will have their licenses suspended. In those cases, the license can be reinstated if the attorney registers and pays the biennial registration fee and a $200 license reinstatement fee.