Professional Responsibility

As members of a profession and officers of the court, lawyers are obligated to act in a professional manner, obey the law, avoid conflicts of interest, and to put the interests of clients ahead of their own interests. 

The Ethics Line

When you need assistance in navigating the tricky waters of legal ethics, call the Ethics Line — 206-727-8284 or 800-945-WSBA, ext. 8284 — and consult with the Professional Responsibility Counsel. We can help you analyze the ethical issues involved to enable you to make a decision consistent with the requirements of the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC).

The Ethics Line provides confidential, informal guidance as to your own prospective ethical conduct.

Common ethical issues include: conflicts of interest, client communication, handling client money, fee arrangements, confidential information, and how to withdraw from a matter in an ethical manner. 

See our FAQs for answers to frequently asked questions on the Ethics Line.

When to Call

The Ethics Line is open during normal business hours. Be prepared to leave a confidential voice message concerning the subject area of your question or issue, and the RPCs that you believe apply. Calls are returned in the order received and within two business days. Please note: calls regarding another lawyer’s conduct should be directed to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel at 206-727-8207. 

Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct

On June 2, 2016, the Supreme Court adopted amendments to the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct, effective Sept. 1, 2016, in response to the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 revisions to the Model Rules. See Order No. 25700-A-1146

On March 23, 2015, the Supreme Court adopted the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) amendments to the lawyer Rules of Professional Conduct, effective April 14, 2015. See Order No. 25700-A-1096

Unofficial Amended Rules of Professional Conduct  (as of Sept. 1, 2016)
WSBA publishes the unofficial amended Rules of Professional Conduct in softbound booklet. Contact the Service Center for information on purchasing the booklet. 

Recent Advisory Opinions

In June 2015, the Committee on Professional Ethics (CPE) issued Advisory Opinion 201501 addressing lawyer conduct with respect to legalized marijuana under Washington state law and Advisory Opinion 201502 regarding process server communication with an opposing represented party.

In December 2014, the CPE issued Advisory Opinion 201401 concerning lead generation services and Advisory Opinion 201402 regarding social media websites. 

More advisory opinions can found on the Ethics Advisory Opinions Search database.

Ethics Advisory Opinion Search

Rules of Professional Conduct

Link to the official RPCs, published by the Washington Supreme Court.

Succession Planning

Protecting your practice and clients

Checklists for Closing a Practice

Law Office Management Assistance Program

Practice management assistance


Learn more about the lawyer discipline system in Washington.

The Public