Professional Responsibility Program
The Professional Responsibility Program is dedicated to helping WSBA members fulfill their ethical obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct. The program is staffed by the WSBA Professional Responsibility Counsel who answers inquiries from members received on the Ethics Line, speaks at CLE presentations, and staffs the Committee on Professional Ethics which issues advisory opinions and makes recommendations on amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The program is also assisted by one other staff attorney, two paralegals, and support staff. The Ethics Line does not handle lawyer discipline, attorney-client disputes, or provide guidance on rules other than the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Ethics FAQs (answers to frequently asked ethical questions)
Rules of Professional Conduct:
To request a written advisory opinion, contact the Committee on Professional Ethics
Recent Advisory Opinions
Advisory Opinion 202001 regarding multi-client representation where lawyer may represent the personal representative in a wrongful death claim and provide legal representation to the statutory beneficiaries.
Advisory Opinion 201903 regarding an inactive lawyer having a trust account to receive client settlement checks after retiring from practice.
Advisory Opinion 201902 concerning a special assistant attorney general (SAAG) representing a government department in a claim against a third party.
Advisory Opinion 201901 concerns lawyer-mediator preparing pleadings for unrepresented parties in dissolution case. Advisory Opinion 2223 is withdrawn.
Advisory Opinion 201803 concerns communication with represented government employee.
Advisory Opinion 201802 addresses client confidentiality in the context of quadripartite and tripartite relationships.
Advisory Opinion 201801 discusses the ethical duties of lawyers moving from firm to firm.
More advisory opinions can be found on the Advisory Opinions database. Another source of ethics information are the ethics articles featured in the Washington state Bar News publication and in NWSidebar, WSBA's blog.
Recent Amendments to the Lawyer 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
Amendments effective June 4, 2019:
RPC 1.0B, RPC 1.17, RPC 4.3, RPC 5.8, RPC 8.1. See Supreme Court Order 25700-A-1258.