Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Court Seeks Public Comment for Attorney Specialization Rule Changes

The Supreme Court of Ohio is accepting public comment on proposed amendments to the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio and the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. The amendments would revise the responsibilities of the Supreme Court and its Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists.

In Ohio, attorneys may obtain certification as specialists in certain fields of law, such as child welfare law or labor and employment law. The Supreme Court does not directly certify attorneys as specialists but provides a two-step process for specialization recognition.

First, an organization applies for a field of law to be considered for specialization through the Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists. If accepted by the commission, its representatives recommend the field of law to be approved by the Supreme Court. Second, once the Supreme Court recognizes the field of law, the organization applies to the commission to be accredited to certify attorneys as specialists practicing in that field.

Currently, attorneys are prohibited from communicating that they are a specialist in a field of law unless the attorney has been certified as a specialist by an accredited organization. The attorney must identify the name of the organization in communication – email signature, letterhead, or any promotion.

The proposed amendments would enact several changes. While the Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists would continue to accredit certifying organizations, the rule change would allow any organization, including those not accredited by the commission, to certify attorneys as specialists. Additionally, the amendment would remove the Supreme Court from the responsibility of recognizing fields of law for specialization, leaving that determination to the certifying organizations. This change would be consistent with specialization systems used in other states.

Finally, the proposed amendments would eliminate the prohibition against attorneys communicating that they are a specialist in the field of law.

Other amendments would move the standards for accreditation within Gov.Bar R. XIV and update some of the rules of service on the commission.

Comments should be submitted in writing before Oct. 26, 2023, to:

Britney Cider
Attorney Services Counsel
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 S. Front St., 5th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215