Atty. Thomas E. Zena’s law practice will be monitored for a year.
The Ohio Supreme Court has unanimously given Atty. Thomas E. Zena of Boardman a one-year, fully-stayed suspension from law practice because it found he neglected his clients’ business in several civil cases.
The suspension is stayed on the conditions that Zena attend at least three hours of continuing education on law office management within 90 days, be observed by a law practice monitor for one year, make $3,000 in restitution within 90 days to a couple he represented and commit no further misconduct.
If he violates these conditions, he’ll have to serve the one-year suspension.
Zena said he never had the $3,000 in his possession, but that restitution amount was ordered because that sum was the final settlement offer the opposing party made, which the couple rejected before the case was dismissed.
“Much of Zena’s misconduct occurred during a time of great turmoil in his personal life,” the top court said without elaboration.
Zena wasn’t accused of dishonesty during the disciplinary proceeding, and he has no prior discipline in his 41-year legal career.
He shared the Mahoning County Bar Association’s 2009 Lawyer of the Year award with two other lawyers.
Zena testified in the disciplinary proceeding that he intends to focus on his criminal defense practice and limit his civil practice.
“They were at a tough time when I was just overwhelmed, and they’re behind me,” Zena said of the cases of client neglect. He declined to comment specifically on his personal troubles.