Committee on Professional Ethics
The Committee on Professional Ethics (CPE) issues advisory opinions to address recurring or emerging ethics issues facing WSBA members. The advisory opinions cover a broader context and provide in-depth guidance on the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) as applied to a wide variety of practice areas. Advisory opinions issued by the committee are published online.
Bar members seeking an advisory opinion from the CPE should direct their request to the staff liaison or the chair. See contact information listed below. If the request is accepted by the committee, a lengthy review process generally follows before a final opinion or other recommendation is issued. Those seeking a more immediate response should contact the Bar's Ethics Line.
The committee also plays a key role in reviewing and suggesting amendments to the RPC.
Recent Advisory Opinions Issued
2019: Advisory Opinion 201902 concerning a special assistant attorney general (SAAG) representing a government department in a claim against a third party; Advisory Opinion 201903 regarding an inactive lawyer having a trust account to receive client settlement checks after retiring from practice; Advisory Opinion 201901 regarding lawyer-mediator preparing legal documents for unrepresented parties in a dissolution. Advisory Opinion 2223 (2012) was withdrawn.
2018: Advisory Opinion 201803 regarding communication with represented government employees; Advisory Opinion 201802 concerning quadripartite and tripartite relationships and client confidentiality; Advisory Opinion 201801 regarding lawyers moving from firm to firm.
More advisory opinions can be found on the Ethics Advisory Opinions database
Proposed Amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct
In January 2020, the Washington Supreme Court ordered proposed changes to RPC 7.3 published for comment, with the comment period ending on May 30, 2020. The Court extended the comment period to September 30, 2020, per Order Number 25700-A-1295, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
In November 2019, the Court ordered proposed changes to RPC 1.15A(h)(9) and LLLT RPC 1.15A(h)(9) published for comment with a comment expiration date of April 30, 2020. The Court extended the comment period to September 30, 2020, per Order Number 25700-A-1295, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
On Nov. 9, 2018, the Court ordered publication on Dec. 4, 2018, suggested amendments to RPC 5.5, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 ,7.4, and 7.5. for comment. The comment period expired on April 30, 2019.
See the Court's website for more information.
Adopted Amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct
On April 1, 2020, the Washington Supreme Court adopted an amendment to RPC 4.4, Comment 4 to clarify the prohibition against sharing information about a third person's immigration status with federal immigration authorities if the purpose is to intimidate, coerce, or obstruct that person from participating in a civil or criminal matter. Effective April 21, 2020. See Supreme Court Order 25700-A-1289.
On May 1, 2019, the Washington Supreme Court adopted amendments to RPC 1.0B, 1.17, 4.3, 5.8, and 8.1, effective June 4, 2019. See Order 25700-A-1258 .
All regular meetings are held 10 a.m.–3 p.m. at the WSBA offices, 1325 Fourth Ave., Suite 600, Seattle, unless otherwise noted.
2019 — Oct. 23 and Dec. 5
2020 — Feb. 7, April 17*, June 19*, Aug. 14*(revised date), Oct. 2*, and Dec. 4*.
*virtual meeting only due to Washington state Governor Inslee's Proclamation 20.28 regarding the COVID-19 health emergency.
To submit a request for an advisory opinion or for further information, please contact the staff liaison or the committee chair.
- Committee Chair J. Donald Curran, firstname.lastname@example.org
- WSBA Staff Liaison Jeanne Marie Clavere, email@example.com
Questions or comments regarding the committee's on-going work may be directed to WSBACPE@wsba.org.