Retirement or Resignation From the Practice of Law

Rule VI, Section 7 of the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio governs retirement and resignation from the practice of law. The retirement or resignation from practice of law is final and irrevocable once accepted by the Supreme Court of Ohio. An attorney should seek to retire or resign from the practice of law only if the attorney wishes to surrender permanently the ability to practice law in this state. An attorney who wishes to stop practicing law in this state, with the option to resume his or her Ohio practice at a later date, should consider registering for inactive status pursuant to Gov. Bar R. VI, Section 2.

Application to Retire or Resign from the Practice of Law

To retire or resign from the practice of law, an attorney must file an application with the Supreme Court Office of Attorney Services. The application consists of two parts: an affidavit that conforms with the Gov. Bar R. VI, Section 7(A)(1); and a written waiver that authorizes Disciplinary Counsel to disclose to the Supreme Court otherwise confidential information about any disciplinary grievances pending against the attorney.

Review of Application

After a completed application for retirement or resignation is filed, the Office of Attorney Services will forward the application to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Disciplinary Counsel will conduct an inquiry to determine if any disciplinary proceedings are pending against the attorney. After completing this inquiry, Disciplinary Counsel will file a confidential report under seal with the Office of Attorney Services. The report will provide information regarding pending disciplinary proceedings, if any, and recommend whether the application to retire or resign should be accepted, denied, or delayed. If Disciplinary Counsel recommends that the application be accepted, the report will indicate whether the attorney should be designated as “retired” or “resigned, with disciplinary action pending.” If Disciplinary Counsel recommends that the resignation be denied or delayed, the report will provide reasons for the recommendation.

Action on the Application

Upon receipt of the report from Disciplinary Counsel, the Office of Attorney Services will take one of two actions. If the report from Disciplinary Counsel recommends acceptance of the application and designation of the attorney as “retired,” the Office will accept the application and designate the attorney as “retired” in the attorney registration records. If the report from Disciplinary Counsel recommends acceptance of the application with a designation of “resigned, with disciplinary action pending” or recommends that the application be denied or delayed, the Office will file the application and confidential report from Disciplinary Counsel with the Clerk of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will review the application and confidential report of Disciplinary Counsel before entering an appropriate order.

If the Supreme Court accepts an application as a resignation from the practice of law, the Court will order that the attorney's registration record be marked as “resigned, with disciplinary action pending.” The designation “resigned, with disciplinary action pending” alerts the public that, but for the resignation, the attorney could have been subject to disciplinary sanctions. The Court also may order the attorney to be designated as “retired,” deny the application altogether, or defer consideration of the application to a later date.

Inactive Registration Status - An Alternative to Retirement or Resignation

As noted above, the retirement or resignation from the practice of law is final and irrevocable once accepted by the Supreme Court. An attorney may wish to stop practicing law without surrendering his or her law license, thus preserving the ability to resume the practice of law at a later date. In this circumstance, an attorney may wish to consider changing his or her registration status to “inactive,” under Gov. Bar R. VI, Section 2. Unlike retirement or resignation, registering for inactive status is revocable. An attorney may qualify for inactive registration status if the attorney is no longer practicing law in Ohio and satisfies the criteria of Gov. Bar R. VI, Section 2. An attorney may register for inactive status by filing an updated certificate of registration. The attorney may later resume the practice of law by filing a new certificate of registration for active registration status and paying the applicable registration fee. An attorney who changes his or her registration from inactive to active also will have specific continuing legal education requirements pursuant to Gov. Bar R. X.

Attorneys Who Registered for Retired Status Prior to Sept. 1, 2007

Attorneys who registered for “retired” registration status prior to Sept. 1, 2007 under former Gov. Bar R. VI, Sec. 4 may change their registration status to either active or inactive. However, they will not be permitted to return to retired registration status but instead, will be required to follow the procedures set forth in Gov. Bar R. VI, Sec. 7, to retire from the practice of law. Additional action does not need to be taken by attorneys who were registered as retired prior to Sept. 1, 2007 and desire for their registration status to remain unchanged.

Changes in registration status may be made by filing a certificate of registration with the Office of Attorney Services.

Questions regarding registration statuses or the process of retiring or resigning from practice of law may be directed to the Office of Attorney Services by telephone at 614.387.9320 or by e-mail addressed to attyreg@sc.ohio.gov.

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