Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Trade Names, Judges in Documentaries among Conduct Board Advisories

The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct has issued three new advisory opinions. Two replace opinions previously issued by the board under the former Code of Professional Responsibility.

Advisory Opinion 2021-8 provides guidance to judges when approached by documentary filmmakers seeking to include a judge and court proceedings in a documentary.

The board advises that the activity is permissible if the judge avoids any interference with their official duties, refrains from commenting on pending cases, and considers the potential for the abuse of the prestige of their judicial office, especially in situations where the documentary is a for-profit venture.

The board also advises judges and court staff not to accept compensation for participation in a documentary due to restrictions against supplemental income imposed by state law.  

Advisory Opinion 2021-9 explains that a suspended or disqualified – as in disbarred or resigned – lawyer may obtain employment with a law firm or lawyer.

The opinion describes that notification to clients of the employment of the suspended or disqualified lawyer is required when the lawyer directly provides services to clients, and that the lawyer cannot have direct client contact or handle client funds.

The board reminds lawyers of their obligation under the Rules of Professional Conduct not to assist suspended or disqualified lawyers in the unauthorized practice of law and to register any employment relationship with a suspended or disqualified lawyer with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. This opinion replaces Advisory Opinions 2008-7 and 1990-6.

Advisory Opinion 2021-10 considers whether lawyers may practice law in Ohio under a common trade name through a national franchise.

The board finds that while Ohio lawyers are permitted to operate under a trade name, the use of a nationally franchised trade name improperly creates business relationships with nonlawyers and misleads the public to believe that a partnership or other organization exists when the lawyers do not operate as a single law firm. This opinion replaces Advisory Opinion 1997-1.

The board also withdrew the following advisory opinions that were considered outdated due to subsequent rule amendments, case law, or advisory opinions:

  • Adv. Op. 1996-9 (inclusion of mandatory arbitration clause in a fee agreement);
  • Adv. Op. 1992-19 (purchase of client files and lists); and
  • Adv. Op. 2010-1 (use of IP or Intellectual Property in a law firm name).