The Washington State Bar Association has a major responsibility for the ethics rules that form the standards of law practice in the state. The Rules of Professional Conduct, as approved and adopted by the Washington Supreme Court, codify a strict, self-imposed standard. The Bar Association assists members in interpreting their ethical obligations by issuing advisory opinions on specific issues.
All ethics opinion are published on-line in the Advisory Opinions database as well as CaseMaker, the legal reseach tool available to WSBA members. Many opinions are in response to ethical questions posed by WSBA members. These opinions have been issued by the WSBA Rules of Professional Conduct Committee or its predecessors, and are advisory only.
In September 2010, the Board of Governors eliminated the distinction between Formal and Informal Ethics Opinions and adopted the nomenclature of “Advisory Opinions.” In doing so, the Board recognized the Washington Supreme Court's opinion in In re Disciplinary Proceeding Against DeRuiz 152 Wn.2d 558, 99 P.3d 881 (2004), which emphasized that ethics opinions issued by the Bar Association are advisory only, and that the Court is the ultimate arbiter of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The Rules of Professional Conduct were substantially revised in 2006. The language and citations in any Advisory Opinion issued prior to this date may not be consistent with the current rules.
RPC Conversion Table for opinions issued prior to 2006.
Ethics opinions which no longer assist Washington lawyers in understanding their professional obligations are withdrawn.
The withdrawal of an opinion does not necessarily mean that WSBA disagrees with the underlying ethical premises of the opinion. Some are withdrawn because of potential constitutional infirmities, ambiguities, incompleteness under current rules or law, or redundancy. Others have been withdrawn because their holdings are now codified in the current Rules of Professional Conduct.
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