Lawyer misconduct filings increase statewide

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A local lawyer who investigates claims of misconduct by other attorneys said a recent increase in cases filed with the Ohio Supreme Court should not be seen as proof the profession is policing itself.

The recent report from the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct shows there were 109 filings last year across the state, compared to just 82 the year before. That is a 33 percent increase, which the board called “significant.”

However, one lawyer who handles complaints against members of the Mahoning County Bar Association said the figures show the Board of Professional Conduct is maintaining high standards. 

“I think there is greater attention by the public and I think by members of the Bar that there is not going to be an acceptance, a tolerance for misconduct,” lawyer Chip Comstock said.

Comstock also said that while there are cases of intentional wrongdoing, he said other cases involve neglect that is the result of mental health issues.

“Whether it is an increased workload, whether it is more competition among lawyers, whether it is the stress of everyday life, the stress of a law practice, we are seeing cases where lawyers are not able to perform because they are dealing with other issues,” Comstock said.

Of the 84 cases that were resolved last year, just 10 involved lawyers from Mahoning, Trumbull or Columbiana counties.

Comstock said those looking to hire an attorney need to do their homework to make sure they are getting the right person for the job.

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