Tips from the OBA Ethics Counsel
Through the Office of Ethics Counsel, Oklahoma Bar Association members can obtain informal advice and interpretations of the rules of attorney conduct. The ethics counsel issues opinions to attorneys for their own guidance involving an existing set of facts. The ethics counsel issues both oral and written informal advisory opinions. Most questions can be answered over the telephone. However questions are accepted in writing and via e-mail. Factors to consider when determining whether to submit requests in writing include:
- Is the question complex or the quantity of information voluminous?
- Is the ethical question “new” or does it present an odd set of facts?
- Does the requesting attorney need a response in writing?
An attorney requesting an informal advisory opinion should call personally or have another attorney within the firm call. The Office of Ethics Counsel does not issue advisory opinions to non-attorneys. To request an informal opinion, call the ethics counsel at the numbers listed below. You will be asked your name and bar number as well as some basic demographic information. Your request will be responded to as quickly as possible with an informal opinion as well as with supporting documents, case law and any other pertinent data available.
An attorney requesting a written informal advisory opinion should allow 30 days to receive an answer. If the request is truly urgent, the attorney should explain that fact in the opening paragraph of the letter or e-mail.
- The letter should contain specific facts, but initials or other designations should be used instead of specific names.
- The request should be concise but must contain all facts upon which the opinion will be based. Additional or different facts could change the conclusion reached in any opinion.
- The letter must indicate that the person requesting the opinion is the attorney, or a member of the firm, whose conduct is in question. Informal opinions will not be given regarding the conduct of an attorney or firm other than the one requesting the opinion.
In addition to responding to requests from members of the bar, the ethics counsel is available to provide continuing legal education on the subject of ethics to groups and associations.
The questions presented and advice given are memorialized through a confidential and protected database. The Office of Ethics Counsel is located at the Oklahoma Bar Association offices. The direct telephone number is (405) 416-7055. E-mail should be sent firstname.lastname@example.org.