Commission Issues Unauthorized Practice of Law Resolution

Commission Issues Unauthorized Practice of Law Resolution

Posted: June, 2004

The Industrial Commission issued a new resolution in response to problems caused by the Board of Commissioners on the Unauthorized Practice of Law’s CompManagement decision.

The Commission initially responded to the finding that CompManagement engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by continuing hearings involving actuaries. The Commission then decided to return to the earlier policy of permitting representation by actuaries until the Supreme Court issues a ruling.

However, Hearing Officers were not acting uniformly when holding hearings involving non-attorneys. To clarify the policy, and instruct hearing officers how to act, the Commission issued an emergency resolution R04-1-01. The resolution rescinds existing Hearing Officer Manual Memo R.4.

The resolution sets forth the basis of the Commission’s authority to issue rules governing representatives at hearings. It then indicates that the rules which it sets forth apply to “third party administrators, union representatives or employees of employers who appear before the Bureau or Commission.”

Under the resolution, such non-attorneys are entitled to:

  1. investigate and assist in the investigation of the facts relating to a claim;
  2. file claims and appeals;
  3. attend hearings — at hearings such non-attorneys may: report results of factual investigations, inform hearing officers of documents (including medical reports) that are in (or missing from) the file, file documents, and request continuances;
  4. complete and submit BWC/IC forms;
  5. complete and submit reports dealing with job classifications for determination of premium rates;
  6. complete and submit reports dealing with premiums, payroll rates, adjustment protests, settlements, and handicap reimbursement requests;
  7. file protests within the BWC to the adjudicating committee, the Self-Insured Review Panel, the Self-Insuring Employers Evaluation Board or the Administrator;
  8. prepare reports to employers regarding risks, reserves and actuarial analysis;
  9. advise employers or injured workers to seek an attorney.

The resolution also sets forth activities that non-attorneys may not perform. Non-attorneys may not:

  1. examine or cross-examine witnesses, either directly or indirectly;
  2. cite, file or interpret any law (statutes, administrative codes, case law or administrative rulings);
  3. make legal interpretations;
  4. comment on the evidence;
  5. provide legal advice;
  6. give legal opinions or cite case law to employers or injured workers;
  7. provide “stand-alone representation” by charging for appearance at a hearing without providing other services.
Information courtesy of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin. Subscribe to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin to keep informed about the Ohio workers’ compensation system.