Ethics & Professionalism Committee

The Ethics and Professionalism Committee was established to promote and improve the ethics and professionalism of lawyers and judges in the community. Committee members engage in a number of initiatives intended to educate CMBA members about the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. The Committee publishes a monthly column in the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal called Ethics Perspectives and administers the Ethics Hotline for CMBA members. The Committee also sponsors an annual ethics and professionalism CLE, an essay competition, the William K. Thomas Professionalism Award and the ‘What If’ Preparedness (WIP) Program.

The Committee meets the second Thursday of each month at noon at the Association where members are invited to bring a brown bag lunch.

Membership is open to Association members in good standing, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees. Members can normally join the Committee throughout the year simply by expressing an interest in serving on the Committee.


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Kimberly Vanover Riley 


Kimberly M. Baga 


Montgomery Rennie & Jonson 


Vice Chair 

 Attorney at Law 



For more information on this Committee, please contact:

Heather Zirke, Bar Counsel


WIP logoHelping Solo Practitioners Prepare for Business “What Ifs” 

Solo practitioners can prepare for the “What Ifs” of business life with the help of CMBA’s What If Preparedness (“WIP” program), developed by the CMBA Ethics & Professionalism Committee. By taking advantage of the WIP program, you provide important information that can be used to protect your clients and aid your family members who may not know where to begin.  And if none of the scary “what ifs” come to pass, the information that you compile and update will help you prepare to bring in a new associate or partner, sell your practice, or wind it down yourself.

Are you prepared for the “what ifs”? 

Here are additional resources for lawyers planning for contingencies and transition: 
The Ethics Hotline is available to members of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association who have questions about their own prospective conduct as it relates to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. Questions may be answered by the Association’s Legal Department or a member of the Ethics and Professionalism Committee.

Resources available at the Association are limited to advisory ethics opinions and ethics materials. Often times, the advisory opinions that exist are not directly on point with a question asked, but instead bear indirectly on the conduct or implicate similar provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct. It is always suggested that members supplement these materials with their own statutory and case law research. Any information or analysis provided should be considered only as information that may factor into the member’s own analysis and independent decision-making process. Members must exercise their own professional judgment in every situation.

The Hotline is merely a benefit to Association members and is not intended to represent the Association’s legal advice, opinion, or conclusions of law.

Members may also request in writing that the Ethics and Professionalism Committee use their question as the basis for a formal opinion. The Committee may accept or decline requests. Please note that formal opinions take, at a minimum, several months before they are issued.

To submit a question to the Ethics Hotline please contact:

Heather Zirke, Bar Counsel

Professionalism AwardThe Honorable William K. Thomas Professionalism Award recognizes one of our colleagues' individual contributions of ethical and professional conduct in the legal profession and emphasizes our profession's commitment to the cause of legal professionalism.

The Professionalism Award is annually awarded to a lawyer or judge who has significantly contributed to the enhancement of professionalism in the Greater Cleveland legal community by exemplifying the goals of the Ohio Supreme Court's "A Lawyer's Creed" and "A Lawyer's Aspirational Ideals" and by furthering the ideals expressed in the mission of the CMBA.  The nominees need not be a member of the CMBA.

The CMBA requests nominations for the 2016 Hon. William K. Thomas Award.  The 2016 award will be presented at the CMBA’s Annual Meeting on June 3.

Submit nominations by April 15 to:
Ethics and Professionalism Committee
Attn: Kimberly Vanover Riley, Chair
1375 East 9th Street, Floor 2
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

The distinguished honorees of the Professionalism Award are as follows:

The Honorable Michael P. Donnelly, 2015
Jacqueline Johnson and Hugh Stanley, 2014

John H. Lawson, 2013
Ann C. Rowland and Michael M. Hughes, Sr. (posthumously), 2012
Thomas S. Kilbane (posthumously), 2011 
Ian N. Friedman, 2010 
Frank R. DeSantis, 2009 
Hugh E. McKay, 2008 
Deborah A. Coleman, 2007 
C. Lyonel Jones (posthumously), 2006 
Charles F. Clarke, 2005 
Niki Z. Schwartz, 2004 
Mark O'Neill, 2003 
The Honorable Patricia A. Hemann, 2002 
Marvin L. Karp, 2001 and the Law Office of David B. Malik proudly present:


The Competition is open to all full- and part-time students enrolled in a JD or LLM program at an ABA-accredited law school. The law school is not required to be located in Ohio.

FIRST PRIZE: $1,000.00

The 2016 topic: How should a new attorney respond if a supervisor instructs the new attorney to engage in non-criminal conduct that the new attorney believes would violate the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct?
Submission Deadline is February 12, 2016.
Click here for competition rules and here for a submission form

Be certain to carefully read the rules before finalizing your essay and submission form.