In addition to issuing Ethics Committee Formal Opinions and Practical Ethics articles, members of the Ethics Committee provide informal assistance to members of the Bar via the Committee’s Helpline service. See “How to Obtain Answers“. Committee members who handle Helpline calls act as “sounding boards” and provide “reality checks” to the inquiring attorney, and will help to focus the further research of the inquirer. However, they will not provide definitive answers to Helpline questions.
Helpline communications are not Committee communications, but are subject to the restrictions and limitations that are generally applicable to Committee decisions and deliberations. In particular, the comments and guidance offered by Committee members during these calls do not constitute the opinions of the Committee or legal advice from individual Committee members. Also, since there is no attorney-client relationship between the inquiring attorney and the Committee member, there is no confidentiality or privilege with respect to such communications in the legal sense. However, as with opinion inquiries, the Committee will limit the voluntary disclosure of the identity of the inquiring attorney, and all discussions, deliberations, files and records of the Committee, to the extent that they may disclose the identity of the inquiring attorney to members of the Committee and Bar staff assigned to the Committee, unless otherwise ordered by compulsory legal process or unless the inquiring attorney waives these protections in writing.
Interpretation of the Ethics Rules comes in a variety of formats. The Ethics Committee Formal Opinions and Practical Ethics articles are published in Bar News and are available on this website. The Ethics Committee Chair may also issue Tentative Advisory Opinions in cases where the inquirer chooses not to wait for a formal response from the Ethics Committee.