|The Supreme Court of Ohio
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ON GRIEVANCES AND DISCIPLINE
41 SOUTH HIGH STREET-SUITE 3370, COLUMBUS, OH 43215-6105
(614) 644-5800 FAX: (614) 644-5804
OFFICE OF SECRETARY
Issued December 16, 1988
[CPR Opinion-provides advice under the Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility which is superseded by the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, eff. 2/1/2007.]
[Not current-subsequent rule amendments to Gov. Bar R. VI.]
SYLLABUS: A person who is delinquent in his or her registration as an attorney with the Supreme Court of Ohio, but who has not yet been stricken from the roll of registered attorneys should not be considered to be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law during such an unregistered period.
OPINION: We have before us your request for our opinion on whether attorneys are engaged in the unauthorized practice of law if they render legal services during a period in which they are delinquent in their biennial registration with the Supreme Court of Ohio, but are not yet stricken from the rolls of registered attorneys.
The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that attorneys assist in preventing the unauthorized practice of law. Code of Professional Responsibility Canon 3 (1988). Governing Bar Rule VII defines the unauthorized practice of law as “the rendering of legal services for others by anyone not registered under Rule VI of the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio.” Governing Bar R. VII §2(A) (1986). As such, Governing Bar Rule VI, on attorney registration, sets the standard for determining proper registration.
Under the guidelines of this rule, an attorney who is delinquent in registering with the Supreme Court of Ohio, but is not yet stricken from the roll of authorized attorneys, is technically not in compliance with the rule. Despite this fact, it is our opinion that an attorney is not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law unless they were notified by the Supreme Court that they have been stricken from the rolls of authorized attorneys, and therefore must discontinue their practice. At that point the attorney has notice that rendering any additional legal services would be considered engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
We must also note the fact that the biennial registration is effective for the entire two-year period, not just from the date of registration onward. Telephone interview with staff member, Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Ohio (Nov.16, 1988).
Op. 88-35 2
Based on the preceeding, it is our opinion that an attorney who is delinquent in registering and paying fees to the Supreme Court of Ohio but not stricken from the roll of registered attorneys, is not engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. This, of course, is in no way meant to encourage attorneys to disregard the necessity of prompt registration and payment of fees.
This opinion is advisory in nature, is based upon the facts as presented and is limited to questions arising under the Code of Professional Responsibility.