All Ohio lawyers take an oath to effectively represent their clients without compromise and conflict. The Supreme Court of Ohio regulates the conduct of lawyers and judges through "Code of Professional Responsibility" and a "Code of Judicial Conduct." Ohio lawyers and judges must obey their oaths of office and the Rules. These Rules include ethical standards that each lawyer must follow.
For example, an Ohio lawyer may not:
If you have an ethics grievance against an Ohio lawyer or judge for violating a Rule of Professional Conduct or the Code of Judicial Conduct, you may report it for investigation. When you file a written grievance, an investigation is made to determine if the attorney or judge did or did not violate the ethical rules.
An ethics grievance against a lawyer or a judge must be in writing and filed with one of the following organizations:
Office of Disciplinary Counsel
Grievances statewide against attorneys and judges
250 Civic Center Drive, Suite 325, Columbus, OH 43215
614/461.0256 or 800/589.5256
Ohio State Bar Association
Grievances against judges only
1700 Lake Shore Drive, P.O. Box 16562, Columbus, OH 43216
614/487.2050 or 800/282.6556
Columbus Bar Association
Grievances against attorneys practicing in Franklin County*
175 S. Third St., Suite 1100, Columbus, OH 43215
Request For Assistance Form
*For the address and telephone number of an approved local bar association near you, please contact the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline.
The Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline
Supreme Court of Ohio, 65 S. Front St., 5th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215
A grievance should be filed with only one office. For grievances against lawyers you may file with either the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, or an approved local bar association such as the Columbus Bar Association. For grievances against judges, you may file with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel or the Ohio State Bar Association.
The investigating Committee or Disciplinary Counsel will gather evidence about your grievance and decide whether the lawyer or judge violated the ethical rules. If the Committee or Disciplinary Counsel finds enough evidence of wrongdoing, it will file a formal Complaint charging misconduct against the lawyer or judge. The Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, which is an independent board appointed by the Supreme Court of Ohio, will then hold a public hearing, and you may be required to testify. In some cases, however, a matter may be submitted on stipulations or an Agreement to Discipline by Consent. Based on the result of this hearing, the Supreme Court of Ohio may take action against the lawyer or judge to protect the public by limiting or prohibiting the lawyer from practicing law or serving as a judge. If there is not enough evidence of misconduct after the hearing is held, the charges will be dismissed by the Board.
Ordinarily, disputes between you and your lawyer over fees are not a basis for an ethics grievance. The Columbus Bar Association and other Certified Grievance Committees have Fee Aribtration Programs to resolve such disputes.
If you have a pending court case and you file a grievance, the grievance process will not have any effect on the course of the court case. The grievance process is completely separate from the court process. You will still need to take all necessary actions in the court to preserve your rights in the legal proceeding. The lawyers investigating or prosecuting a grievance filed by you cannot represent or advise you regarding any aspect of the court matter or recover money damages for you. The grievance process is designed solely to determine if an attorney should be sanctioned for ethics violations.
Filing an ethics grievance against a lawyer will not result in a recovery of the money you lost. If you suffer monetary damages or out-of-pocket losses
as a result of your lawyer's mistakes or negligence, you may have a legal malpractice claim.
Malpractice lawsuits require a client to sue the lawyer generally within one year of the discovery of the malpractice. If you wish to file a malpractice claim against a lawyer, you should immediately consult with a different lawyer about the one year limitation and the damages you believe you have suffered.
If your lawyer has illegally taken or misused your money or property, you may be eligible to recover the loss caused by the dishonest conduct by filing a claim with the Clients' Security Fund of Ohio, 175 S. Third St., Suite 285, Columbus, OH 43215, telephone 1.800/231.1680 or 614/995.5000. You do not need the assistance of a lawyer to file this claim; you may file it yourself.
This information is general in nature and not intended to give specific advice for an individual legal problem. Please contact one of the organizations listed if you have a complaint about a judge, lawyer, or the legal services you received.