Hickman Lowder

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Hickman Lowder Announces the Retirement of Founding Partner Franklin J. Hickman

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Firm News, Special Education

Headshot of Franklin J. Hickman

Cleveland, OH (February 21, 2024) – Hickman Lowder Lidrbauch & Welch Co., L.P.A. announces that its founding Partner, Franklin J. Hickman will retire from active practice this month after a career spanning more than five decades.  He will continue to be Of Counsel with the Firm and will be available for consultation on cases as needed.

After starting my 51st year as an attorney, it is time to step back and let the next generation carry the torch. The staff at the Firm is first-rate and the leadership is well-prepared to take on the challenges of managing a busy practice,” Frank says.

Attorney Franklin J. Hickman’s announcement caps a remarkable career as a champion for people with disabilities.  A pioneer in the area of disability law, he began his career by working for The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.  He brought numerous successful class actions establishing and defining the treatment rights of patients in psychiatric hospitals and state institutions for persons with developmental disabilities, and of prison inmates with psychiatric problems.

In 1981, Frank transitioned into private practice, building the law firm that today is Hickman Lowder, where he has devoted his practice to supporting agencies and county boards that provide services to people with disabilities. He has also focused his efforts on pursuing cases under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which defines and protects the rights of children who need special education. Frank’s work extended outside the Firm and into the community as well. Frank was the founder and director of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Bar Advocacy Project that sponsored education programs for the private bar and conducted extensive advocacy work in the establishment of group homes. “When I started, the default placement was institutions, and it wasn’t just in Ohio,” Frank says. “Conditions were incredibly appalling, and they couldn’t get out of those places.” The changes since then have been “phenomenal,” he says.

If there has been a secret to his success, he says it was having “a cohesive vision” of what he wanted to do in his legal career.

Frank’s professional accomplishments are many, including a Lifetime Achievement Award that the Ohio Association of County Boards Serving People with Developmental Disabilities gave him in 2018.

Frank says the work he has done on the systems level “has been very satisfying. It has made an impact.” He gives great credit to the smart, dedicated, talented people he has worked with over the years, especially his long-time partner Janet Lowder. “It has been an incredible ride – better than I ever dreamed before I got into this,” he says. “It has been a wonderful career.”

Learn more about Frank’s fascinating story and distinguished career.