The Cincinnati Bar Association is authorized by the Supreme Court of Ohio to investigate grievances from the public with respect to their attorney and to investigate any wrongdoing. If a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct is found, attorneys may be sanctioned by the Supreme Court, and depending on the severity of the violation, he or she could lose their license to practice law in Ohio. The CBA takes its role in this process very seriously. Please see below for more specific information or contact the Cincinnati Bar Association at (513) 381-8213 and ask for the Grievance Department.
Where can I file a complaint against my attorney?
What is a grievance?
What happens when I file a grievance?
Can the Grievance Committee get my money back for me?
What can I do if I believe an attorney overcharged me?
Am I allowed to fire my attorney?
Is there a statute of limitations on filing a grievance?
Can I file a complaint against a Judge or Magistrate with the Grievance Committee?
Can the Grievance Department refer me to an attorney?
What MAY NOT be considered a grievance?
The Grievance Committee of the Cincinnati Bar Association has been certified by the Supreme Court of Ohio to investigate complaints against attorneys who practice in Hamilton County. Complaints must be submitted in writing to the Cincinnati Bar Association Grievance Department. Forms should be mailed to:
Cincinnati Bar Association
Attn: Grievance Committee
225 East Sixth Street, Second Floor
Cincinnati, OH 45202
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel has jurisdiction to investigate complaints against attorneys in the State of Ohio. You may contact the office at 1(800) 589-5256. The mailing address for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel is:
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel
Supreme Court of Ohio
Bicentennial Plaza One
250 Civic Center Drive, Ste. 325
Columbus, Ohio 43215-5454
You may file a complaint with either the Cincinnati Bar Association or the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, but not with both.
A grievance is a violation of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. Click here to view the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.
Examples of grievances may include:
- taking a case when there is a conflict of interest;
- failure to respond after receiving a certified letter;
- not having a written fee contract in a contingency case;
- lying to a client or the court;
- stealing money from a client that the attorney was holding for the client;
- depositing attorney funds and client funds into the same account (co-mingling funds).
A complaint form received by the Cincinnati Bar Association is reviewed by our General Counsel to determine if there is a potential violation of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. If a potential violation is found, the complaint is assigned to a member of our Grievance Committee for investigation. The investigator will talk with the person complaining, as well as with the attorney who has been complained about and anyone else who might have knowledge of the situation. The investigator then reports to the Grievance Committee as a whole and the committee will vote on whether or not to file a formal complaint with the Board of Commissioners on Grievance and Discipline.
Due to the complexity of some grievances, the investigation and determination may take several months. Every grievance must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Grievances are reviewed in the order in which they are received.
The Cincinnati Bar Association Grievance Committee cannot represent individual clients, regardless of the nature of their complaint. The Grievance Committee can take action against an attorney's license to practice law. We cannot overturn a court's decision or award a refund of fees to you.
The Grievance Committee cannot recover money for you which you have lost due to an attorney's conduct. If you have suffered monetary losses or damages, you may or may not have a malpractice claim against the attorney. Contact the Lawyer Referral Service of the Cincinnati Bar Association (513) 381-8359 for referral to a malpractice attorney.
You may contact the Client's Security Fund of Ohio if the loss you suffered was the result of dishonest conduct of an attorney. The Client's Security Fund can be contacted toll free in Ohio 1(800) 231-1680 or outside of Ohio (614) 387-9390.
The Client's Security Fund of Ohio
65 South Front Street, Fifth Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-5134 3431
Fee disputes are generally not considered a grievance. The Cincinnati Bar Association has a Fee Arbitration Committee that may be able to resolve your fee issues.
Yes, but in certain situations you will need the court's permission. You can find out what the court requires by calling the clerk for that court and asking to speak with a court administrator.
In probate cases, if you are not the executor or administrator, you cannot fire the attorney. You can report the complaint to the court administrator or hire an attorney to represent your interest.
If your attorney is a public defender, you may contact the public defender's office for that county and ask that a new attorney be assigned to you.
If you do wish to dismiss your attorney you may send a certified letter to the attorney. Make sure you date the letter and keep a copy of it for yourself. The letter should contain three things:
- Notice: “You are dismissed from my case.”
Files: “Please send my file to me… .”
“Please forward my file to my new counsel… .”
“Please make my file available to me for pick-up… .”
(Keep in mind that the attorney CAN charge you for postage).
- Final Billing: “Please send a final itemized billing statement and a refund of all unused or unearned fees previously paid.”
There is no statute of limitations (time limit) for filing a grievance. A malpractice action does have a statute of limitations, which you may discuss with a private attorney.
The Cincinnati Bar Association Grievance Committee does not take complaints against judges or magistrates, only attorneys in Hamilton County, Ohio. To file a complaint against a judge or magistrate, contact the Ohio State Bar Association Judge's Grievance Committee at 1(800) 282-6556 or the Office of Disciplinary Counsel at 1(800) 589-5256.
Please contact the Cincinnati Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at (513) 381-8359 for referrals.
The Grievance Committee may not be able to do anything in the following situations:
- if an attorney or member of their staff is rude to you
- if you are unhappy with the outcome of your case
- if you disagree with an attorney's tactics or judgment of how to handle a case
Please Note: Every grievance complaint filed with the Cincinnati Bar Association is fact-specific and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If a case is still pending in a court of law, the Grievance Committee may not be able to investigate the matter until the court matter is over.
The Grievance Committee cannot change the decision of a court of law and cannot interfere in any ongoing court proceedings.
For additional information, please contact the Cincinnati Bar Association (513) 381-8213 and ask to speak to the Grievance Department.
The Cincinnati Bar Association has operated its Lawyer Referral Service since 1943. The LRS maintains a panel of more than 325 attorneys and makes referrals to the public in most areas of the law. For your convenience, referrals can be made to an attorney located in your geographical area. There is no fee for using the service and the referred attorney will not charge more than $30 for the first half-hour of consultation. To submit a request for an attorney, complete the online form or call the Lawyer Referral Service at (513) 381-8359.