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 conversation with stakeholders at its regular meeting on Feb. 22, 2019. The session is expected to start at 10:30 a.m. The purpose is to have a Q&A with stakeholders and exchange viewpoints on 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 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 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 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 an amendment to RPC 1.12, effective Nov. 20, 2018. The only change was to Comment 1 which was updated with the current CJC citation.
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.
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
Past minutes available by public records request.
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.