Updated: June 4, 2021

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 Line

Ethics FAQs (answers to frequently asked ethical questions)

Advisory Opinions

Rules of Professional Conduct

To request a written advisory opinion, contact the Committee on Professional Ethics

Recent Advisory Opinions

Advisory Opinion 202102 regarding lawyers who act as third party neutrals in domestic relations matters that involve possible risk of domestic abuse. 

Advisory Opinion 202101 regarding disclosure of civil commitment proceedings while representing criminal defendant.

Advisory Opinion 202002 on a lawyer ghostwriting for pro se civil litigation clients.

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 Advisory Opinion 2223 is withdrawn.

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 7, 2021, the Washington Supreme Court adopted an amendment to Cmt 2 to 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 upon publication which date is 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

The Bar offers an unofficial version of the lawyer Rules of Professional Conduct as amended through May 4, 2021. Download the pdf or contact questions@wsba.org to purchase a printed bound copy.