Licensed to practice law in Indiana, Virginia and the District of Columbia, non-Ohio licensed attorney Donald Doheny, Jr. was ordered to cease practicing law in Ohio and fined $25,000 for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
Suffering from the effects of a serious auto accident in 1993, Doheny, unable to maintain steady work, moved to St. Louis to live with his mother. When she passed away, Doheny moved to Ohio to live with close friends.
While living there, Butler County informed Doheny’s friends that they violated a lease for a county airport hanger when they placed signage on the side and the roof. After researching the matter, Doheny met with County officials, which resulted in the County dropping the demand to remove the signs.
Doheny then attended a County Commissioners’ meeting where he requested that the lease regarding the airport hanger be amended so that his friends could obtain a Small Business Loan and build a new hanger. Doheny provided legal advice regarding building permits and met with government officials about compliance with the permits. Doheny later recommended that his friends file suit against the County.
Doheny told the FAA that he represented his friends, using Doheny & Doheny law firm letterhead and listed as his business address property that his clients’ owned. His friends paid him about $65,000 for Doheny’s legal services.
Doheny also charged his friends a fee for preparing a real estate purchase agreement. He charged another man to prepare a deed to sell real estate. He represented to Butler County jail officials that he was the family attorney for a man arrested. He attempted to obtain the man’s release and was paid $2,000 for his efforts.
In March 2017, the Ohio State Bar Association filed a complaint with the Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law charging Doheny with 11 counts of practicing law without an Ohio license. On August 21, 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio ordered Doheny to cease practicing law in Ohio and fined him $25,0000.
Gov.Bar R. VII permits the Supreme Court of Ohio to fine an individual found to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law $10,000 for each incident. The Supreme Court of Ohio could have fined Donehy up to $100,000 for the 10 counts for which it found him to be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. However, it deemed a $25,000 fine to be sufficient.