Updated: May 1, 2020

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

In October 2019, the CPE issued Advisory Opinion 201902 concerning a special assistant attorney general (SAAG) representing a government department in a claim against a third party, and Advisory Opinion 201903 regarding an inactive lawyer having a trust account to receive client settlement checks after retiring from practice.

In August 2019, the CPE issued Advisory Opinion 201901 regarding lawyer-mediator preparing legal documents for unrepresented parties in a dissolution. Advisory Opinion 2223 (2012) is withdrawn.

In August 2018, the CPE issued an advisory opinion regarding communication with represented government employees. Read Advisory Opinion 201803.

In July 2018, the CPE issued an advisory opinion concerning quadripartite and tripartite relationships and client confidentiality. Read Advisory Opinion 201802.

In April 2018, the CPE issued an advisory opinion on lawyers moving from firm to firm. Read Advisory Opinion 201801.More advisory opinions can be found on the Ethics Advisory Opinions database

´╗┐Proposed Amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct

On Nov. 9, 2018, the Washington Supreme 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 .

Committee Meetings

All 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. 21, Oct. 2, and Dec. 4


Mar. 31, 2020 

March 10, 2020 

Feb. 24, 2020 

Feb. 7, 2020 

Jan. 23, 2020 

Dec. 20, 2019

Dec. 12, 2019 

Dec. 5, 2019 

Oct. 23, 2019 


Past minutes available by public records request.

Contact Us

To submit a request for an advisory opinion or for further information, please contact the staff liaison or the committee chair.

Questions or comments regarding the committee's on-going work may be directed to WSBACPE@wsba.org.