Special Committee for the Evaluation of the Rules of Professional Conduct (Ethics 2003 Committee)

By order dated July 10, 2006, the Supreme Court approved the proposed Ethics 2003 amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct. In adopting the amendments, the Court modified the rules as proposed by the WSBA Board of Governors in a number of respects. The amended rules became effective on September 1, 2006.

Overview of Ethics 2003 Process

The Ethics 2003 Committee was formed in 2002 by the WSBA Board of Governors. Their purpose was to review the revised ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, to undertake a comprehensive study and evaluation of the ABA revisions, to consider the suitability of adopting the ABA revisions and commentary in Washington, to consider other appropriate changes to Washington's Rules of Professional Conduct, and to submit its recommendations to the WSBA Board of Governors.

The ABA Commission on Evaluation of the Rules of Professional Conduct (Ethics 2000) hoped that as state supreme courts considered implementation of the revised rules, uniformity would be the "guiding beacon."  Recognizing the importance of uniformity in rules regulating lawyer conduct, the WSBA Ethics 2003 Committee, in general recommended adoption of the Model Rules, together with the associated commentary, unless there was a compelling and articulable reason for deviation.

The Committee issued its Report and Recommendation to the Board of Governors in March 2004. The Board debated the report throughout their meetings between April 2004 to July 2004. They completed their review in July 2004, and approved (as modified by the Board) the Ethics 2003 recommendation for presentation to the Supreme Court, pursuant to the provisions of GR 9. The Supreme Court published the proposed rules for comment on December 2, 2004, in the official Advance Sheets of the Washington Reports, 153 Wn.2d No. 1. The comment period closed on April 29, 2005.

On July 12, 2005, the Supreme Court Rules Committee requested that the Ethics 2003 Committee evaluate and respond to concerns that had been raised during the public comment period. See Supreme Court Letter of Inquiry. The Ethics 2003 Committee reconvened on August 22, 2005, to address these issues, and the Committee unanimously responded to the Court's inquiries by letter dated September 2, 2005. See Ethics 2003 Committee Letter to Justice Johnson [Enclosure 1] [Enclosure 2]

The Supreme Court adopted a modified version of the Ethics 2003 proposed rules on July 10, 2006, with an effective date of September 1, 2006.

Committee Organization and Membership

Proposed Rules

Redline copy of the entire set of proposed rules, with deletions and additions marked in accordance with GR 9.

Clean copy of the proposed rules, with the accompanying comments, as suggested for adoption by the Board of Governors following their review of the Ethics 2003 Committee report. (Select Document Map under “View” in MS Word to navigate the document.) 

 Summary of RPC Changes and Comparison to Model Rules

Summary of Significant Changes to RPCs
Effective Sept. 1, 2006

Differences between WA RPCs (2006) and ABA Model Rules (2005)

Report & Recommendation

Final report of Ethics 2003