Franklin J. Hickman

Franklin J. Hickman, Attorney

Attorney Franklin J. Hickman has focused his career on legal issues affecting persons with mental disabilities since 1973. His 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 disabled, as well as the agencies and county boards throughout the state which provide services to persons with mental illness, developmental disabilities or substance abuse problems. He has also represented families in special education cases 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.


  • Public Sector
  • Special Education
  • Guardianship


  • University of Pennsylvania School of Law
  • Catholic University of America, M.A. & B.A, Summa cum laude


  • Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program in the Medical School of Case Western Reserve University
    • Faculty


  • Ohio Association of County Boards Serving People with Developmental Disabilities
    • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities
    • President’s Award for Partnering in Quality
  • North Coast Community Homes
    • Community Service Award
  • John Minor Wisdom award for Public Service and Professionalism from the American Bar Association Litigation Section

AV Preeminent Rated Lawyer

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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.