WSR 07-23-014



[ November 7, 2007 ]




NO. 25700-A-883

The Rule Committee having recommended the adoption of the proposed amendment to APR 19(e), and the Court having determined that the proposed amendment will aid in the prompt and orderly administration of justice and further determined that an emergency exists which necessitates an early adoption;

Now, therefore, it is hereby


(a) That the amendment as attached hereto is adopted.

(b) That pursuant to the emergency provisions of GR 9 (j)(1), the amendment will be published expeditiously and become effective upon publication.

DATED at Olympia, Washington this 7th day of November, 2007.
Alexander, C. J.

C. Johnson, J.

Chambers, J.

Madsen, J.

Sanders, J.

Fairhurst, J.

Bridge, J.

J. M. Johnson, J.




(e) Ethics Professional Responsibility Program. [Reserved.]

(1) Authorization. The Washington State Bar Association is authorized to maintain a program to assist lawyers in complying with their obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct, thereby enhancing the quality of legal representation provided by Washington lawyers.

(2) Professional Responsibility Counsel. "Professional responsibility counsel" denotes a lawyer employed or appointed by the Bar Association to act as counsel on the Bar Association's behalf in performing duties under part (e) of this rule, and any other lawyer employed or appointed by the Bar Association, including but not limited to disciplinary counsel or general counsel, whenever such lawyer is temporarily performing those duties.

(3) Ethics Inquiries. Any member of the Bar Association, or any lawyer or legal intern permitted by rule to practice law in this state, may direct an ethics inquiry to professional responsibility counsel. Such inquiries should be made by telephone to the Bar Association's designated ethics inquiry telephone line. The provisions of this rule also apply to ethics inquiries initially submitted in writing, including facsimile, e-mail, or other electronic means, but do not apply to requests for written ethics opinions directed to the Bar Association's Rules of Professional Conduct Committee or its equivalent.

(4) Scope. An inquirer may request the guidance of professional responsibility counsel in identifying, interpreting or applying the Rules of Professional Conduct as they relate to his or her prospective ethical conduct. If the inquiry presents a set of facts, those facts should ordinarily be presented in hypothetical format. Professional responsibility counsel provides only informal guidance. Professional responsibility counsel provides no legal advice or opinions, and the inquirer is responsible for making his or her own decision about the ethical issue presented. The inquiry shall be declined if it (i) requires analysis or resolution of legal issues other than those arising under the Rules of Professional Conduct; (ii) seeks an opinion about the ethical conduct of a lawyer other than the inquirer; or (iii) seeks an opinion about the ethical propriety of the inquirer's past conduct.

(5) Limitations and Inadmissibility. Neither the making of an inquiry nor the providing of information by professional responsibility counsel under this rule creates a client-lawyer relationship. Any information or opinion provided during the course of an ethics inquiry is the informal, individual view of professional responsibility counsel only. No information relating to an ethics inquiry, including the fact that an inquiry has been made, its content, or the response thereto, may be asserted in response to any grievance or complaint under the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct, nor is such information admissible in any proceeding under the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct.

(6) Records. Professional responsibility counsel shall not make or maintain any permanent record of the identity of an inquirer or the substance of a specific inquiry or response. Professional responsibility counsel may keep records of the number of inquiries and the nature and type of inquiries and responses. Such records shall be used solely to aid the Bar Association in developing the Professional Responsibility Program and developing additional educational programs. Such records shall be exempt from public inspection and copying and shall not be subject to discovery or disclosure in any proceeding.

(7) Confidentiality. Communications between an inquirer and professional responsibility counsel are confidential and shall be privileged against disclosure except by consent of the inquirer or as authorized by the Supreme Court. Professional responsibility counsel shall not use or reveal information learned during the course of an ethics inquiry except as RPC 1.9 would permit with respect to information of a former client. The provisions of RPC 8.3 do not apply to information received by professional responsibility counsel during the course of an ethics inquiry.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office