Committee on Professional Ethics

The Committee on Professional Ethics issues advisory opinions to address recurring or emerging ethics issues facing WSBA members. The advisory opinions cover a broader context and provide members with in-depth guidance on the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) as applied to a wide variety of practice areas. The committee also plays a key role in reviewing and suggesting potential amendments to the RPCs.

New Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct

On June 2, 2016, the Washington Supreme Court adopted new amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct, effective Sept. 1, 2016. See Supreme Court order.

The amendments are in response to the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 revisions to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. In 2013, the Board of Governors requested the Committee on Professional Ethics review the Ethics 20/20 revisions and to make recommendations, if any, to Washington's rules. The BOG approved the committee's recommendations in September 2015 and forwarded them to the Court. 

Limited License Legal Technician Amendments to the RPC

The Washington Supreme Court adopted the Limited License Legal Technician amendments to the lawyer Rules of Professional Conduct, effective April 14, 2015. The Court directed the Bar to gather feedback from members for nine months following the effective date and to provide the comments back to the Court. The comment period closed on Nov. 30, 2015. 

Recent Advisory Opinions

Washington's Marijuana Law and the Cannabis Patient Protection Act

The Committee on Professional Ethics issued Advisory Opinion 201501 on June 5, 2015, addressing lawyer conduct with respect to legalized marijuana under Washington state law.

In November 2014, the Washington Supreme Court adopted Comment [18] to RPC 1.2, which became effective on Dec. 9, 2014. Under the heading "Special Circumstances Presented by Washington Initiative 502", the comment addresses the ethical conduct of lawyers who wish to counsel and assist clients involved in marijuana-related business enterprises under a new state law legalizing marijuana. Prior to adoption of the comment, the Court published the suggested comment for a 60-day public comment period. 

In January 2014, the committee issued a report and recommendation to the Board of Governors regarding lawyer conduct in light of Initiative 502.

Process Server Communication with an Opposing Party

On June 26, 2015, the committee issued Advisory Opinion 201502 regarding a process server's contact with a represented, opposing party.

Lead Generation Services; Social Media Websites

The committee issued two advisory opinions December 2014.

Advisory Opinion 201401 addresses advertising, online lead generation services, and contact with potential client leads.

Advisory Opinion 201402 concerns participation on social media websites and responsibility to ensure content on claimed profiles is accurate and conforms to the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Search for additional ethics opinions on the Ethics Advisory Opinions database.

Committee Meetings

All meetings are held at the WSBA offices at 1325 Fourth Ave., Suite 600, Seattle. Meetings are held 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

  • Oct. 16, 2015 – cancelled
  • Dec. 18, 2015 – cancelled
  • Feb. 26, 2016 
  • April 22, 2016 
  • June 24, 2016 - cancelled
  • July 6, 2016 (10 a.m.–12 p.m., conference call only)
  • Aug. 26, 2016  See agenda

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