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Published: Wednesday, 9/1/2004

Court database adds lawyer info to its site

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - For the first time, Ohioans can access, through a few keystrokes at the computer, information on lawyers, including whether they'd ever been sanctioned for misconduct.

The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday announced that a new database accessible through its Internet Web site, www.sconet.state.oh.us.

The database provides the names, employers, work addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, law schools, and disciplinary histories of lawyers registered to practice in Ohio, regardless of whether they live here.

The information is routinely collected by the court and is public record, but it has never been available on-line before.

Lawyers must register with the state every two years.

"The on-line attorney registration information program should be viewed primarily as the first step in learning about an attorney, because some aspects of an attorney's record are not public record," said Chief Justice Thomas Moyer.

The site does not provide information on disciplinary matters still pending or details on whether the lawyer has ever been sued for malpractice.

There are 35,000 lawyers active in Ohio, about 1 percent of whom have been disciplined for some reason, said Heather Sowald, president of the Ohio State Bar Association.

The information on the database dates to 1925.

Urban bar associations also provide additional information via their lawyer referral services.

Information about Ohio judges, as lawyers registered with the state, is also available through the site.

The site should also show if an out-of-state attorney registered to practice in Ohio has been disciplined elsewhere. The court's Web site includes its opinions and programs.



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