Ohio Says No to Debt Settlement by Out of State Lawyers

The Supreme Court of Ohio issued a recent ruling the forbids out of state lawyers from providing debt settlement services to Ohio residents.

An out-of-state lawyer is not authorized to provide debt settlement legal services, including investigation, negotiation, and other nonlitigation activities, on a temporary basis in Ohio under Prof. Cond. Rule 5.5(c)(4) when the matter is not connected to the lawyer’s jurisdiction of admission to the practice of law, there is not a pre-existing relationship between the lawyer and the client, and the lawyer does not have a recognized expertise in a particular body of federal, nationally-uniform, foreign, or international law that is applicable to the matter. Under these circumstances, the nonlitigation activities do not arise out of, and are not reasonably related to, the lawyer’s practice in his or her jurisdiction of admission for purposes of Prof. Cond. Rule 5.5(c)(4).

I wonder who Ohio could be talking about in their published opinion when they say:

A self-proclaimed “national law firm” located in another state provides legal services in the areas of consumer debt and foreclosure relief. The firm’s lawyers are not admitted to the practice of law in Ohio, and the firm does not associate with Ohio lawyers or maintain an Ohio office. The firm advertises its services on the internet. Ohio residents, with no prior contact with the firm, locate the firm’s website and subsequently contract with the firm’s lawyers for debt settlement legal services. The lawyers investigate the debt of the Ohio clients and negotiate with their creditors in an effort to settle debts for less than the amount owed. The creditors are located in both Ohio and other states. Neither litigation nor alternative dispute resolution proceedings are pending involving the Ohio clients. The firm charges a monthly fee to the Ohio clients for the debt settlement legal services. – Source

The Attorney General of Ohio also said that this ruling would apply to out-of-state lawyers offering foreclosure rescue services as well. – Source

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