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Attorneys & Judicial officers FAQ

What should you do if you receive certified mail or an email from The Office of Disciplinary Counsel that contains a Letter of Inquiry (LOI)?

Don’t panic. The LOI is designed to give you a chance to respond to a grievance that has been filed against you. It does not necessarily mean that our office believes that the grievance is well founded.  Nor does it mean that our office believes you have committed a disciplinary violation. Our attorneys who review incoming grievances, similar to a court considering a motion to dismiss, ask the attorney or judicial officer to respond to any allegation that, if proven, would constitute a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Don’t ignore the LOI. Although you should not panic, you should treat the LOI seriously and respond within the indicated time frame or request an extension of time to respond from the assigned Assistant Disciplinary Counsel in our office.  A surprising number of attorneys make the mistake of failing to respond.  A failure to respond may constitute professional misconduct.  Our office can pursue discipline for failing to respond to an LOI, even if our investigation reveals that there is no merit to the underlying grievance. (Disciplinary Counsel v. Goebl, 152 Ohio St.3d 498, 2018-Ohio-5, 98 N.E.3d 223).

Seek ethics counsel. You should seek the assistance of counsel if you believe it would assist in responding to the LOI.

Respond fully. Make sure you provide a full and fair disclosure of the relevant facts. Include copies of pertinent documents.  Do not include your entire client file unless every document in the file is truly necessary to a complete understanding of your response.  Some attorneys and judicial officers make the mistake of failing to respond fully because they believe the grievance has no merit or because they resent spending the time to prepare a response.  Vague or incomplete responses could cause our office to misunderstand the facts and to take action it might not have taken if presented with adequate information.  A vague or incomplete response or a failure to respond fully to follow-up questions may itself be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

To read a comprehensive explanation of the disciplinary process, please click here.

Does the office of disciplinary counsel provide ethics advice?

No.  However, our office offers non-binding guidance to lawyers and judicial officers who are faced with ethical issues.  If you are a lawyer and have a question about a particular ethical issue or situation, you may contact our office at 614-387-9700 (Press option 1) and an Assistant Disciplinary Counsel will respond to your inquiry.  If you are a judicial officer and have a question about a particular ethical situation or issue, you may contact our office at 614-387-9730 and the Disciplinary Counsel or the Chief Assistant will respond to your inquiry.

How do I obtain a letter verifying my disciplinary history? 

You may request a letter verifying your disciplinary history by contacting our office directly.

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