Investigation of Unauthorized Practice of Law by Omnibus Proceeding: The Ohio Method

The practice of law is impressed with a public interest. Whether by representation in a judicial proceeding or by advice on a legal problem, the lawyer renders professional service to the public. Preserving client confidences, assuring unquestioned loyalty, and rendering expert counsel are typical obligations of the legal profession. Another responsibility of lawyers is that of protecting the public from legal practice by unqualified laymen. Three areas of activity are involved in preventing unauthorized practice of law. Lawyers and public officials must define the practice of law/ investigate and prosecute unlicensed practitioners, and by judicial remedy prohibit further unauthorized practice. Although each of these three areas makes a necessary contribution to the ultimate control of unauthorized legal practice, the problems of making preliminary investigation and initiating legal action are perhaps the most important. To facilitate unauthorized practice suits, Ohio has developed a unique investigatory system. Since this procedure can eventuate in an action for an injunction, the most popular and effective of the various remedies employed in unauthorized practice litigation, it is a particularly significant innovation and one which may induce procedural modification in other jurisdictions.