On Wednesday, October 11, 2023, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended attorney Omar Fahmi Shaaban for two years, with one year conditionally stayed, for violating multiple professional conduct rules in eight client matters. The court found that Shaaban failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness, failed to appear at multiple court hearings, failed to reasonably communicate with his clients, filed pleadings alleging defenses that he should have known did not apply to the facts of the case and made false statements to courts and opposing counsel.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Omar Fahmi Shaaban,” with case no. 2023-Ohio-3671.
Shaaban, who was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 2010, has been a sole practitioner with a practice focused mainly on criminal defense and civil litigation. He has no support staff to assist him with his practice, and at the time of his disciplinary hearing, he had no office management software.
Shaaban and James Warsing, a friend who introduced him to Ohio Mortgage Review, entered into an arrangement under which Warsing would refer legal clients to Shaaban. They maintained that arrangement until 2013 or 2014 and then resumed it around 2017 or 2018 until Warsing’s death in June 2020.
Under that arrangement, Warsing reviewed public records and contacted potential clients about their foreclosure cases. The written agreements that he and his clients entered into stated, “Provider [Ohio Mortgage Review] shall retain a competent attorney to represent Client, and shall pay all attorney fees agreed upon with said attorney.” According to Shaaban, Warsing retained Shaaban’s services on behalf of the clients pursuant to powers of attorney—though Shaaban did not require Warsing to produce copies of those documents. Shaaban had no written fee agreement with Warsing or any of the clients.
Warsing would accept payment from the clients—typically as a recurring monthly fee—and according to Shaaban, would pay Shaaban “however much he saw fit.” In the beginning, Warsing made monthly deposits into Shaaban’s bank account, often in cash, but the payments became more sporadic over time. Warsing did not give Shaaban any documentation or accounting of the fees, and Shaaban did not maintain any record of the payments he received.
The parties stipulated that Warsing conducted legal research and drafted legal documents on behalf of the clients he shared with Shaaban. During his disciplinary hearing, Shaaban testified that Warsing would then send the legal documents to Shaaban for review and signature, and then one of them would file the documents using Shaaban’s e-filing information. However, Shaaban also admitted that he often failed to review those documents before Warsing filed them. Shaaban further admitted that Warsing sometimes used his information to file documents without his knowledge and that Warsing essentially took over his role as a lawyer.
In addition to his failures to communicate with these clients, Shaaban engaged in multiple acts of dishonest conduct while representing them, including several false statements of fact to a court. For example, in Neill’s case, Shaaban falsely stated to the court that he had filed an answer on Neill’s behalf when, in fact, he had not. Shaaban also failed to file answers on behalf of two of these clients, failed to appear in court for scheduled hearings and/or conferences on behalf of five
Based on the facts provided, the Ohio Supreme Court decided to suspend attorney Omar Fahmi Shaaban.
The Disposition states:
“Accordingly, Omar Fahmi Shaaban is suspended from the practice of law in Ohio for two years with one year stayed on the condition that he engage in no further misconduct. If Shaaban fails to comply with the condition of the stay, the stay will be revoked and he will serve the full two-year suspension”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Shaaban is a debt collection attorney in Toledo, Ohio. He attended the Lebanese University Faculty of Law. He acquired his law license in Ohio in 2010.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.