Updated: Oct. 14, 2021

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 broad 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

2021: Advisory Opinion 202101 regarding disclosure of civil commitment proceedings while representing criminal defendant. Advisory Opinion 202102 concerns lawyers acting as third party neutrals in domestic relations matters that involve possible risk of domestic abuse.  

2020: Advisory Opinion 202001 regarding multi-client representation in which a lawyer represents the personal representative in a wrongful-death claim and provides legal representation to the statutory beneficiaries. Advisory Opinion 202002 concerns a lawyer ghostwriting for pro se civil litigation clients.

2019: Advisory Opinion 201901 concerns the lawyer-mediator preparing pleadings for unrepresented parties in dissolution cases. Advisory Opinion 2223 is withdrawn. Advisory Opinion 201902 concerns a special assistant attorney general (SAAG) representing a government department in a claim against a third party. Advisory Opinion 201903 concerns an inactive lawyer having a trust account to receive client settlement checks after retiring from practice.

More advisory opinions can be found on the Ethics Advisory Opinions Database

Recent Amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct

For RPC 1.4(c) insurance malpractice disclosure requirement, and other amendments effective on Sept. 1, 2021, see Ethics.

On April 7, 2021, the Washington Supreme Court adopted an amendment to Cmt. 2 of RPC 1.11, effective May 4, 2021. A reference to the Court's decision in State v. Nickels (2020) was added to the comment.

On Jan. 8, 2021, the Washington Supreme Court adopted amendments to RPC 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5 and 5.5 regarding lawyer advertising, effective Jan. 26, 2021. See Washington Supreme Court Order 25700-A-1333

On Nov. 20, 2020, the Court adopted amendments to RPC 1.15A(h)(9) and to LLLTRPC 1.15A(h)(9) regarding LLLTs as authorized signatory on the trust account, effective Feb. 1, 2021. See Washington Supreme Court Order 25700-A-1308

See the Court's website for information on suggested amendments to the RPC published for comment.

Committee Meetings

All regular meetings are held 10 a.m.–3 p.m. at the WSBA offices, 1325 Fourth Ave., Suite 600, Seattle, unless otherwise noted. (See note below for 2021-2022 meetings.)

2021 — Oct. 15, Dec. 3

2022 — Feb. 4, April 1, June 10, Aug. 12  

Note: Meetings may be held virtually, or in-person and virtual.  Check the event calendar for specific details. In 2020 and 2021, in-person meetings were suspended per Proclamation 20.28 et. seq. by WA state Governor Inslee due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Since then, the WSBA has established COVID-19 protocols for open offices.

Meeting Minutes

June 4, 2021

April 9, 2021

Feb. 5, 2021

Dec. 11, 2020

Oct. 2, 2020

Aug. 14, 2020

June 16, 2020

April 17, 2020

Past minutes available by public records request


Contact Us

To submit a request for a written advisory opinion from the committee, please contact the staff liaison or the committee chair.  For meeting information, please contact the staff liaison.