The Supreme Court of Ohio adopted amendments to Rule 5.5 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct and Rules I and XII of the Ohio Rules for the Government of the Bar, effective September 1, 2021, to allow a lawyer admitted to practice in another state to provide legal services remotely from Ohio. For example, this change would permit the Florida licensed lawyer to practice Florida law on behalf of the Florida clients from the comfort of the lawyer’s Ohio summer home.
The Rule is now titled Rule 5.5- Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law; Remote Practice of Law. The additions to Rule 5.5 would permit a lawyer admitted and in good standing in another US jurisdiction to provide legal services remotely while in Ohio if the lawyer is providing services that are authorized by the lawyer’s licensing jurisdiction, as long as the lawyer does not:
- solicit or accept clients for representation within this jurisdiction or appear before Ohio tribunals, except as otherwise authorized by rule or law;
- state, imply, or hold himself or herself out as an Ohio lawyer or admitted to practice law in Ohio;
- violate the provisions of Rules 5.4, 7.1 and 7.5
The Rule further provides that a lawyer who is practicing under this rule and the lawyer’s firm shall indicate the jurisdictional limitations of the lawyer. If any Ohio presence is indicated on any lawyer or law firm materials available for public view, such as the lawyer’s letterhead, business cards, website, advertising materials, fee agreement, or office signage, the lawyer and the law firm should affirmatively state the lawyer is not admitted to practice law in Ohio. See also Rules 7.1 and 7.5.
For additional information on this topic see OBLICAlert of January 28, 2021 ABA Opinions Provide Guidance on Current Practice Issues, which discusses ABA Formal Opinion 495 – Lawyers Working Remotely. Notably Florida Bar Advisory Opinion No SC20-1220 Out-of-State Attorney Working Remotely From Florida Home, found that a New Jersey lawyer practicing remotely from his home in Florida did not constitute the unlicensed practice of law in Florida.
Ohio previously prohibited such work to avoid the unauthorized practice of law. These changes in Ohio reflect the response to the increase in remote work. If you practice remotely, does the jurisdiction where you physically locate to practice Ohio law provide this permission?
If you have questions about this or any other loss prevention topic, please feel free to contact us at OBLIC. We’re here to help you!
Gretchen Mote, Esq
Director of Loss Prevention
Monica Waller, Esq.
Senior Loss Prevention Counsel