Updated: Nov. 14, 2018

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. 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 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.

In July 2017, the CPE issued an advisory opinion addressing the disclosure of confidential client information in the context of a motion to withdraw in Washington Superior Court. Read Advisory Opinion 201701´╗┐.

More advisory opinions can be found on the Ethics Advisory Opinions database.

Proposed Draft Advisory Opinion

Over the past year, a subcommittee of the CPE has been reviewing Advisory Opinion 2223  (lawyer-mediators preparing legal documents for unrepresented parties).  The subcommittee held a special public meeting on May 9, 2017, to solicit feedback from interested parties and those affected by the opinion. 

In September 2018, the committee released a proposed draft opinion to replace Advisory Opinion 2223, and again invited input from stakeholders. The comment deadline has been extended to Jan. 15, 2019.

In addition, the CPE will hold a 90-minute listening session at its regular meeting on Feb. 22, 2019.  The session is expected to start at 10:30 a.m. The purpose of the session is to provide a Q&A and exchange viewpoints with stakeholders regarding the proposed draft opinion. Discussion will be limited to the comments and viewpoints the CPE received before the Jan. 15, 2019 deadline.  Individuals interested in listening to or attending the 90-minute public session are encouraged to contact the committee at WSBACPE@wsba.org before Jan. 15, 2019.  This will assist us with meeting planning.

´╗┐Proposed Amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct

On Nov. 9, 2018, the Washington Supreme Court published for comment suggested amendments to RPC 5.5, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 ,7.4, and 7.5. The comment expires on April 30, 2019. See the Court's website for more information.

On November 2017, the Washington Supreme Court published for comment suggested amendments to 4.2. The comment period expired April 30, 2018.

Adopted Amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct

On Nov. 1, 2018, the Washington Supreme Court adopted  amendments to RPC 1.0B, 1.17, 4.3, 5.8, and 8.1effective Nov. 20, 2018.

On Oct. 31, 2018, the Court adopted an amendment to RPC 1.12, comment 1 (minor technical correction to update cite to CJC), effective Nov. 20, 2018.

On Sept. 5, 2018, the Court adopted amendments to RPC 1.2 and RPC 8.4 addressing lawyer conduct under Washington's marijuana laws, effective Sept. 25, 2018.

On Dec. 6, 2017, the Court adopted amendments to RPC 1.0A, 1.10, and 1.11, effective Sept. 1, 2018.

On June 7, 2018, the Court adopted the following amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct, effective Sept. 1, 2018.

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.

2018 — Oct. 26 and Dec. 21
2019 — Feb. 22, April 5, June 7, and Aug. 23

Minutes

Aug. 24, 2018

July 2, 2018

June 22, 2018

April 20, 2018

Feb. 9, 2018

Dec. 15, 2017

Oct. 20, 2017

Aug. 25, 2017

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.