Legal Principle at Issue
Whether the Bar, acting with state authorization, constitutionally may discipline a lawyer for soliciting clients in person, for pecuniary gain, under circumstances likely to pose dangers that the State has a right to prevent.
Affirmed (includes modified). Petitioning party did not receive a favorable disposition.
Upon hearing of an automobile accident, an Ohio lawyer contacted the parents of one of the injured drivers and visited the daughter in the hospital. He met with the 18-year-old daughter in the hospital. He offered to represent her. He also approached her passenger, another 18-year-old girl, who was at home recovering after being released from the hospital. While both young women eventually fired him, he did obtain some of the insurance money in a settlement for the breach of contract claim he brought against the driver. The two young women filed complaints with a bar grievance committee. The Ohio State Bar Association filed a formal complaint with the Disciplinary Board of the Ohio Supreme Court, which rejected appellant's defense that his conduct was protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Importance of Case
The Ohio State Bar Association can constitutionally discipline an attorney for soliciting clients in person, for monetary gain. The State has a right to prevent harmful solicitation of legal business by attorneys, thus, while entitled to some constitutional protection, the action does not offend appellant’s First Amendment rights.