Legal Hotline

One of the services available to ONMA members is the “Legal Hotline.” The hotline is staffed by attorneys at the Cleveland office of the law firm of Baker & Hostetler. It is maintained through a retainer paid by The Ohio News Media Association.

Employees of any “Active Member” in good standing with ONMA may use the Legal Hotline. Inquiries may relate to any aspect of newspaper publishing which may include advertising, circulation, editorial, libel law, copyright, personnel & labor law, taxation, freedom of information and general management issues. Inquiries may involve a general reference to the state or federal law that applies or guidance regarding a specific local situation.

Here’s How The Hotline Works

1. Contact the ONMA office first (by phone, fax or e-mail as listed below). Many times a legal question can be answered by referring to guidebooks and other reference sources maintained here or by drawing upon similar circumstances encountered by other ONMA members.

2. If your question or local issue is best handled by an attorney you will be given the direct phone number to the Baker & Hostetler law firm. The central referral is through the office of Mike Farrell. If you need immediate assistance and Farrell is not available you will be referred to another appropriate attorney.

3. When you call Baker & Hostetler state very clearly that you are calling as an ONMA member and using the hotline service. Try to have a clear and concise listing of the facts involved in your local situation.

4. If your inquiry is general and involves no more than one hour of legal staff time, your inquiry will be included in the normal retainer paid by ONMA. This will be clarified for you by the attorney handling your call.

5. If your inquiry requires additional time or legal resources you will be so advised and given the option of having a Baker & Hostetler attorney handle your case according to fees paid by you.

Baker & Hostetler

Baker & Hostetler LLP was established in Cleveland, Ohio in 1916. Newton D. Baker, Joseph C. Hostetler and Thomas L. Sidlo founded the firm. Baker himself was a two-term mayor of Cleveland and Secretary of War under President Woodrow Wilson. The Firm has grown from its Cleveland origins to include nearly 500 lawyers serving clients from offices in Cincinnati and Columbus, Denver, Houston, Beverly Hills, Long Beach, Los Gatos, Orlando and Washington D.C. Attorneys in the Cleveland office practice in major areas of law, including business and corporate, environmental, media and communications and employee benefits.

Melissa Bertke

Melissa Bertke is a skilled complex commercial litigator and trial attorney who is adept at analyzing and advising on complicated litigation and pre-litigation matters. Her broad and varied practice includes advising and representing clients on business torts, contract disputes, advertising, First Amendment, intellectual property, employment and environmental claims.

Michael Farrell

With the main focus of his practice in the class action arena, Michael Farrell has significant experience as lead counsel in the defense of class actions, media-related litigation, and the defense and prosecution of complex commercial litigation. Throughout his career, Michael has defended clients in alleged class actions challenging insurance company claims practices, billing practices within the telecommunications and car rental industry, fax advertising, and defamation, invasion of privacy and related claims against print and electronic media outlets.

Both Melissa Bertke and Michael Farrell serve as general counsel to the Ohio News Media Association.