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TOLEDO BAR ASSOC. v. CHELSEA TITLE AGENCY, 100 Ohio St.3d 356 (2003)2003-Ohio-6453, 800 N.E.2d 29

TOLEDO BAR ASSOC. v. CHELSEA TITLE AGENCY, 100 Ohio St.3d 356 (2003)
2003-Ohio-6453, 800 N.E.2d 29
Toledo Bar Association v. Chelsea Title Agency of Dayton, Inc., D.B.A.
Chelsea Title Agency of Toledo.
No. 2003-1535.
Supreme Court of Ohio.
Submitted October 20, 2003.
Decided December 24, 2003.

  On Final Report of the Board of Commissioners on the Unauthorized>
<Practice> <of> <Law> of the Supreme Court, No. UPL 03-02.


  {¶ 1} Respondent, Chelsea Title Agency of Dayton, Inc., d.b.a.
Chelsea Title Agency of Toledo, is an Ohio corporation that markets title
insurance. Respondent is not an attorney licensed to practice law in Ohio
or any other jurisdiction.

  {¶ 2} On September 28, 2001, respondent, through a nonlawyer
agent, prepared a general warranty deed to convey real property in Wood
County, Ohio. The nonlawyer prepared the deed by entering data into a
form provided by an attorney. Respondent then had the grantor sign the
deed. Although the deed
Page 357
contained language specifying that it was prepared by an attorney, it
was neither reviewed by nor prepared under the supervision of an attorney.

  {¶ 3} In May 2002, the Secretary of the <Unauthorized> <Practice> <of>
<Law> Committee of relator, Toledo Bar Association, notified respondent
that its preparation of the deed constituted the <unauthorized> <practice> <of>
<law> and requested that respondent cease its practice of preparing deeds
for its title customers.

  {¶ 4} In October or November 2002, respondent prepared a quitclaim
deed to convey real property in Lucas County, Ohio, on behalf of another
title customer. Like the other deed, this deed was not prepared or
reviewed by an attorney despite language in the deed indicating

  {¶ 5} On January 6, 2003, relator filed a complaint charging
respondent with having engaged in the <unauthorized> <practice> <of> <law> and
requesting that the court prohibit this conduct in the future. After
respondent filed an answer, the parties filed a stipulation of facts and
waiver of hearing pursuant to Gov.Bar R. VII(7)(C).

  {¶ 6} Based on the stipulations, the Board of Commissioners on the
<Unauthorized> <Practice> <of> <Law> found the facts set forth herein and
concluded, as the parties had agreed, that respondent's actions
constituted the <unauthorized> <practice> <of> <law>. The board recommended that
the court accept respondent's consent to be enjoined from engaging in the
<unauthorized> <practice> <of> <law> in the future.

  {¶ 7} We adopt the findings and conclusions of the board. "The
<unauthorized> <practice> <of> <law> is the rendering of legal services for
another by any person not admitted to practice in Ohio * * *." Gov.Bar
R. VII(2)(A). "`[T]he practice of law embraces the preparation of legal
documents on another's behalf, including deeds which convey real
property.'" Lorain Cty. Bar Assn. v. Kennedy (2002), 95 Ohio St.3d 116,
116-117, 766 N.E.2d 151, quoting Disciplinary Counsel v. Doan (1997),
77 Ohio St.3d 236, 237, 673 N.E.2d 1272; see, also, Medina Cty. Bar
Assn. v. Flickinger, 95 Ohio St.3d 498, 2002-Ohio-2483, 769 N.E.2d 822.
Respondent's preparation of the two deeds constituted the <unauthorized>
<practice> <of> <law>.

  {¶ 8} We adopt the board's recommendation that respondent be
enjoined from future activity constituting the <unauthorized> <practice> <of>
<law>. We also believe, however, that an additional civil penalty is
warranted. See Gov.Bar R. VII(19)(D)(1)(c).[fn1] Despite being notified
by relator that its preparation of deeds constituted the <unauthorized>
<practice> <of> <law>, respondent continued to engage in this conduct.
Imposition of an additional civil penalty furthers the purposes of
Gov.Bar R. VII. See Cincinnati Bar Assn. v. Adjustment Serv. Corp.
Page 358
89 Ohio St.3d 385, 387, 732 N.E.2d 362, quoting Gov.Bar R.
VII(17) ("`This rule and regulations relating to investigations and
proceedings involving complaints of <unauthorized> <practice> <of> <law> shall be
liberally construed for the protection of the public, the courts, and the
legal profession * * *.'"). (Emphasis added.)

  {¶ 9} Respondent is hereby enjoined from further conduct that
constitutes the <unauthorized> <practice> <of> <law> and is fined $1,000.

  Judgment accordingly.

  Moyer, C.J., Resnick, F.E. Sweeney, Pfeifer, Lundberg Stratton,
O'Connor and O'Donnell, JJ., Concur.

[fn1] Gov. Bar R. VII was amended effective June 16, 2003, and among
other things, the amendment authorized the imposition of civil penalties
on respondents found to have engaged in the <unauthorized> <practice> <of>
<law. 99 Ohio St.3d XCIII, XCV.

  Jonathan B. Cherry, Bar Counsel, and Gregory B. Denny, for relator.

  Koblentz & Koblentz, Richard S. Koblentz and Bryan L. Penvose,
for respondent.
Page 359

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