The Cincinnati Bar Association is authorized by the Supreme Court of Ohio to investigate grievances from the public with respect to attorneys and to investigate any wrongdoing. If a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct is found, the attorney 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. Please see below for more specific information or contact the Cincinnati Bar Association at (513) 381-8213 and ask for the Grievance Department.
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
Supreme Court of Ohio Website
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:
• conflicts 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 Bar 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 the Grievance Committee for investigation. The investigator will interview the person complaining, as well as with the attorney 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 Professional Conduct.
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 Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection if the loss you suffered was the result of dishonest conduct of an attorney. The Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection can be contacted toll free in Ohio 1 (800) 231-1680 or outside of Ohio (614) 387-9390 or at:
Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
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 which may be able to resolve your fee issues. Please refer to the tab below to learn more about Fee Arbitration.
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 matter pending in Court is resolved.
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.
Your complaint will be reviewed, in the order in which it was received, for any potential violations of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. You will receive a written response to your complaint within two to eight weeks. If a potential violation is found, an investigation will be opened and a copy of your complaint will be provided to the attorney who will then be required to respond to the allegations.
The grievance investigation generally takes approximately 60 to 90 days; however, it can be longer if the grievance should require a more extensive investigation. You may be contacted to provide additional information to the Grievance Committee. Should this occur, you must provide the information in order for the committee to continue its investigation. If you have questions during the investigation process or wish to obtain the status of your complaint, you may contact the Grievance Department by phone from Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Please note that the Grievance Department does not meet with clients in person.
At the conclusion of the investigation you will be contacted by mail regarding the findings of the committee.
If the Grievance Committee finds sufficient evidence of wrongdoing, it will file a formal complaint charging misconduct against the attorney. The Board of Professional Conduct, which is an independent board appointed by the Supreme Court of Ohio, will then hold a public hearing and you may be required to testify. Based on the results of this hearing, the Supreme Court of Ohio may take action against the lawyer to protect the public by limiting or prohibiting the lawyer from practicing law. If the Board finds insufficient evidence of misconduct, the charges may be dismissed by the Board.
Finally, it is important to recognize that the Bar Association and its Grievance Committee cannot give you legal advice or represent you. The Grievance Committee's function is to investigate and seek discipline for attorney misconduct, or to exonerate the attorney. A person with a legal problem should consult an attorney and cannot rely on the Bar Association for legal representation. The grievance procedure is separate and distinct from a civil cause of action. The fact that you have filed a grievance with the Bar Association will not affect the time limitations for the proper filing of a civil lawsuit, whether that suit is against your attorney or against anyone else.
To request arbitration of an attorney's fee.…
Please read the Consent to Arbitration form carefully to be sure you understand the terms of the arbitration process. If you agree to those terms, and wish to request arbitration of your fee dispute, please sign and date the Consent to Arbitration form in the space for Complainant. Use the Statement of Facts form to provide a brief statement of the facts regarding your fee problem. Both forms should be signed, dated, and returned to this office. Please attach copies of any written fee contract or agreement, billing statement for services, or receipts for payment to the attorney.
Arbitration is a voluntary process…
Your written statement, copies and the signed consent form will then be forwarded to your attorney advising him or her that you have requested arbitration of his or her fee. Arbitration is a voluntary process, and the parties to a fee dispute, attorney and client, must give their written consent before a matter can be accepted for fee arbitration. Attorney-client fees are a matter of contract between parties and the Cincinnati Bar Association cannot intercede without the consent of all parties.
If the attorney declines or consents…
If your attorney declines to submit this matter to fee arbitration, you will be notified, and may pursue any remedy to which you may be entitled through the court system. If your attorney consents to fee arbitration, your written statement will be forwarded to the Fee Arbitration Committee of the Cincinnati Bar Association for appointment of a hearing panel. A member of that panel will contact you directly regarding the time, date, and place of the arbitration. Arbitration will then proceed in accordance with the terms described in the Consent to Arbitration form. After the arbitration, a written Opinion and Award will be issued by the hearing panel and a copy provided to all parties.
For questions or assistance…
If you have any additional questions or need assistance, please call the Cincinnati Bar Association at (513) 381-8213 and ask to speak with the grievance department.