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June 2012 CBA REPORT
in the spotlight
By Carol J. Branch
is client is the Cincinnati Bar
Association, and his practice
areas include responding to eth-
ical inquiries from attorneys and acting
as the case manager for the Grievance
Committee. Not a job for the average
lawyer, but for the last three decades
Terry Patterson has filled this unique
role as bar counsel for the Cincinnati Bar
Patterson was counsel to the Ohio
Ethics Commission in Columbus in
1982, when the CBA’s executive director,
Martha Perin, asked him to come and
see her.
“Martha told me that the bar counsel
was leaving and that she wanted to hire
me,” Patterson said. He was not familiar
with that term, but Perin gave him a set
of rules and regulations to study. After
two interviews with the CBA’s volun-
teer leadership, Patterson began as bar
counsel on June 7, 1982. “I’ve taken to
reminding people that I was only 18
when I started,” he said.
Though the number of formal
complaints the CBA has filed over the
years has remained relatively the same —
about 10 percent of the disciplinary cases
presented to the Ohio Supreme Court
each year arise in Hamilton County
— Patterson has witnessed a number
of changes over the years. Perhaps the
biggest change occurred in 2007, when
the Supreme Court of Ohio switched
from the Code of Professional Respon-
sibility, in place since 1970, to the Ohio
Rules of Professional Conduct. The new
rules are based on the model rules of the
American Bar Association, and Patter-
son served on the Ohio Supreme Court
Patterson Marks
30th Anniversary
as CBA Bar Counsel
task force which guided that transition.
Remarked Patterson: “I used to joke that
I would retire if they ever changed to the
model rules of conduct, so it seems I’ve
failed to meet that goal.”
Though the focus of his job — inves-
tigating ethical violations by lawyers that
could possibly result in their disbarment
— is “not a cheerful subject matter,”
Patterson finds the work satisfying. “In
some situations, we are able to end up
with a good resolution for the lawyers,
whether we’re exonerating them from
false accusations or helping them to
improve their ways so they don’t have
further problems,” he explained. “I hope
that lawyers believe that the Grievance
Committee really does like a happy end-
Patterson has valued the opportunity
to work with CBA member volunteers
who serve on the CBA board-appointed
Grievance Committee. “The volunteers
I’ve worked with over the years have been
extremely dedicated. They have taken
their role on the Grievance Committee
seriously, and it has been a privilege to
work with them,” he said.
While his work is mostly reactive in
nature, Patterson has tried to be proac-
tive in addressing common attorney
ethical issues. He regularly fields calls
from local attorneys with hypothetical
ethical questions. The CBA “Flying Solo”
seminar he developed, first held this
year, offered lawyers who are thinking
about hanging out their own shingle the
opportunity to explore issues they may
face when starting solo practices. And
Lawyers’ Trust Accounts, a
published by the CBA through a grant
from the Bar Foundation, has been
distributed to more than 2,000 lawyers
to date. Considering that 40 percent of
all Ohio Supreme Court grievance cases
in 2011 involved trust accounting issues,
this handbook can serve as an important
preventative resource for lawyers, noted
When asked about his main ac-
complishment in 30 years of handling
grievance matters for the local bar, Pat-
terson pointed to the purpose for which
the CBA was founded. “If you look at
the articles of incorporation of the bar,
the first item on that list says we should
‘uphold high standards of integrity and
honor in the legal profession.’ I’d like to
think that on a daily basis I have contrib-
uted to that process.”
Branch recently served as the interim director of
communications for the CBA.
If you look at the articles of incorporation of
the bar, the first item on that list says we should
‘uphold high standards of integrity and honor in
the legal profession.’
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