Franklin J. Hickman

AV Preeminent Rated Lawyer *

Attorney Franklin J. Hickman has focused his career on legal issues affecting persons with mental disabilities since his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1973, where he received the Wiley C. Rutledge Memorial Award. Frank’s first major case established the right of indigent persons in Ohio to have legal counsel provided at public expense at their civil commitment proceedings.

During his nine years as a member of the Law Reform Unit of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Frank brought numerous successful class actions establishing and defining the treatment rights of patients in psychiatric hospitals and state institutions for the developmentally disabled, and of inmates with psychiatric problems. He was founder and director of the Cleveland Bar advocacy project which sponsored education programs for the private bar and conducted extensive advocacy work in the establishment of group homes.

Since going into private practice in 1981, Frank has focused his practice on families with members who are mentally and/or physically impaired as well as the agencies and county boards throughout the state which provide services to persons with mental illness or developmental disabilities or substance abuse problems.

He has represented families in special education cases since 1975 in negotiations, mediation, due process proceedings and cases in all courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He spends a major part of his practice on cases under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which defines and protects rights of children who need special education.

Frank is on the faculty of the medical and law schools at Case Western Reserve University, where he teaches a course on law and psychiatry. He has presented over 1,500 local, regional, and national seminars and workshops on legal issues relating to mental disability.

Frank is a frequent speaker on topics related to Special Education and Benefits. See our Events Calendar for upcoming speaking engagements.


* AV® Preeminent™ and BV® Distinguished™ are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.

Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.