Congratulations on getting through law school, passing the bar exam and becoming an Ohio lawyer! Now that you are officially licensed, cross the following seven items off your to-do list.
1. Get liability insurance
A lawyer may practice as a solo practitioner or in firm. There are choices for the type of business entity for the practice, including a proprietorship, general partnership, limited liability partnership, legal professional association, corporation, legal clinic, or limited liability company. If you practice as part of a legal professional association, corporation, legal clinic, limited liability company, or limited liability partnership, you need to comply with the requirements of Rule III, Section 4: Financial Responsibility (See Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio and Comment  of Rule 1.4 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct).
Rule 1.4 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct says that either a lawyer needs to have legal malpractice insurance (also called lawyers professional liability insurance or LPL coverage), or inform a client that she/he does not have malpractice insurance at the time of the client’s engagement or at any time subsequent to the engagement if the lawyer does not maintain such insurance. (See Ohio Rule of Professional Conduct 1.4).
A lawyer is not required to notify a client that she/he does not maintain professional liability insurance if a lawyer is employed by a governmental entity and renders services pursuant to that employment or a lawyer renders legal services to an entity that employs the lawyer as in-house counsel.Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Company
(OBLIC) offers coverage for in-house counsel as well as policies for lawyers in part-time or full-time private practice. Please contact OBLIC to learn more and to apply for malpractice insurance.2. Understand continuing legal education credit
Active attorneys and attorneys registered for corporate status must complete and report 24 hours of accredited CLE activities every two years. An attorney whose last name begins with a letter from A through L is required to complete the number of CLE credit hours required on or before Dec. 31 of each odd-numbered year. An attorney whose last name begins with a letter from M through Z is required to complete the number of CLE credit hours required on or before Dec. 31 of each even-numbered year.
Sixty minutes of instruction or other approved activity is equal to one credit hour. Attorneys can get up to 12 hours of self-study (online) credit, and must have 12 hours of in-person education. As part of the minimum 24 credit hours of CLE required, attorneys are required to complete a minimum of two and one-half credit hours of instruction on professional conduct.
CLE requirements are contained in Gov. Bar R. X and Gov. Jud. R. IV and are administered by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and the Office of Attorney Services. Visit the Ohio Supreme Court's website for more details.3. Get Young Lawyer Training credit
Newly admitted attorneys must complete 12 hours of NLT instruction, including 3 hours of New Lawyers Training in Professionalism, Law Office Management, and Client Fund Management, by the end of their first biennial compliance period. For example, if you were admitted to the practice of law or initially registered for corporate counsel status in 2017, and your last name begins with a letter A through L, you must complete your NLT educational hours by Dec. 31, 2019. If you were admitted to the practice of law or initially registered for corporate counsel status in 2017, and your last name begins with a letter M through Z, you must complete your NLT educational hours by Dec. 31, 2018.
As an OSBA member, access to OSBA New Lawyer Training courses
is right at your fingertips.4. How to manage your student loans
As a new lawyer, you probably have student loan debt. It is important for you to learn about the best options and strategies for paying your student loan debt. Be sure to visit the OSBA finance resources section
to watch the student loan video series and find other resources to learn how to manage your student loans.5. Find a mentor
You probably already realized that law school did not teach you everything about the practice of law. You might still need to learn a few things about the ins and outs of being a lawyer. This is where a mentor will help you. Find another lawyer who can walk you through what it is really like to be a lawyer. Your mentor can answer your questions, introduce you to colleagues, invite you to events, and help you establish yourself.
You can find a mentor through your law school, your current employer or through events at the OSBA. The Supreme Court of Ohio also offers the Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program
, which links experienced attorneys with new lawyers who have recently been admitted to the practice of law. Mentors and new lawyers meet in person six times during the course of a year to discuss topics and engage in activities they select from a mentoring plan. Upon completion of the program, mentors receive CLE credit and new lawyers receive required new lawyer training credit.6. Volunteer in your community
Do you strive to make a difference? Through volunteer opportunities in your community, you get the satisfaction of helping others and giving back to your community. In addition to networking occasions, volunteering also has health benefits. The report “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,” has established that those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.7. Join an association
There are many perks of joining your local or state bar association. You have direct access to discounted education, benefits, and certification. As a new lawyer, the most important benefit of association membership is the access to the networking opportunities. Through bar association events, such as committees and sections, CLE seminars
and writing opportunities, you have the chance to enhance your reputation and get tips from other legal professionals in your field.