Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Professional Conduct Board Issues Four Advisory Opinions

The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct has issued four advisory opinions in response to requests for advice. Three replace opinions previously issued under the former Code of Professional Responsibility. 

Advisory Opinion 2019-5 advises part-time law directors engaged in private practice that they may not represent private clients in matters related to their employing municipality. However, the opinion discusses the ability of lawyers associated with a law director’s firm to handle client matters with the municipality when appropriate screening and the apportionment of fees are implemented.

Advisory Opinion 2019-6 explains a lawyer’s duty to return a former client’s file that the lawyer has maintained for a substantial period of time after representation has ended. The opinion reviews what constitutes a client file, advises lawyers to return the client file in an accessible format if it was retained digitally, and suggests the implementation of an office file retention policy that permits the transfer or destruction of files with notice to the client. This opinion replaces Advisory Opinion 92-08.

Advisory Opinion 2019-7 concludes that a lawyer’s donation of legal services to a charitable organization for a fundraising auction or raffle is improper because it constitutes the giving of a thing of value to another for recommending the lawyer’s services. The board also considers the lawyer’s donation misleading, because the lawyer may ultimately be unable to provide the legal services donated due to conflicts of interest, the complexity of the legal matter or the lawyer’s relative skill and competence. This opinion replaces Advisory Opinion 2002-5.

Advisory Opinion 2019-8 addresses a lawyer’s duty to report to disciplinary authorities that a criminal defense lawyer is serving as a court-appointed counsel while associated in the same law firm as a county prosecutor. State law prohibits a partner or employee of a prosecuting attorney from accepting court appointments in criminal cases in any jurisdiction. The board concludes that a defense lawyer’s disregard of the state law barring representation and the conflict rules raises questions about a lawyer’s fitness to practice law. This opinion replaces Advisory Opinion 1989-09.

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