Cincinnati Attorney Suspended for One Year After Mental Health Suspension Lifted
The Supreme Court of Ohio today suspended the law license of Cincinnati attorney Joy Lawrence for one year. The unanimous decision also ended Lawrence’s mental health suspension, imposed in 2005, and then addressed the underlying disciplinary charges.
Following a surgery in 2002, Lawrence suffered significant cognitive impairment. The court in 2005 found that she had a mental health disorder stemming from the surgery, which impaired her ability to practice law, and imposed a mental health suspension.
In the current case, the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline determined that evidence submitted by Lawrence and an independent mental health evaluation demonstrated that she is no longer mentally ill. The court agreed and, in its per curiam (not authored by a specific justice) opinion, today terminated Lawrence’s mental health suspension.
In reviewing the underlying misconduct in three client matters prior to 2005, the board also found that Lawrence did not maintain complete records of the client funds in her possession, withdrew fees not yet earned from her client trust account, did not perform contracted legal work, and failed to cooperate in the resulting disciplinary investigation.
The court agreed and determined that the board’s recommended sanction of a one-year actual suspension from the practice of law was appropriate for this misconduct.
If Lawrence wants to practice law again, she will need to petition the court for reinstatement; submit a report from a mental health professional stating that she is able to return to the competent, ethical, and professional practice of law; and enter into a contract with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program and comply with their treatment recommendations. If reinstated, she must serve two years of monitored probation.
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