I. Duties and Authority
(a) Number of Voting Members
(b) Qualifications of Voting Members
(c) Term of Appointments
(d) Manner of Appointments and Selection Panel
(e) Selection Panel Procedure
(f) Lay Member
(g) Office of Professional Conduct Consultant
(h) Default Resignation
(i) Unfilled Terms
(j) Vice-Chair and Secretary
(a) Requests for Opinions
(b) Disposition of Requests
(c) Committee Procedures
(d) Publication Procedures
(e) Reconsideration and Appeal Procedures
(a) All Opinions Formal
RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR THE ETHICS ADVISORY OPINION COMMITTEE
OF THE UTAH STATE BAR
I. Duties and Authority. Back
(a) Duties. The Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee (the “Committee”)
of the Utah State Bar (the “Bar”) shall:
and dispose of requests for advisory opinions on the ethical propriety
of anticipated professional or personal conduct of Bar members;
(2) Prepare and issue formal written opinions in appropriate cases;
(3) Prepare and issue informal letter responses in other cases;
(4) Fully inform the Board of Bar Commissioners (the “Board”)
of all opinions that the Committee issues; and
(5) Publish all formal opinions where they will be available to
Utah lawyers and the public at large.
(1) Interpretive Authority. Committee opinions shall interpret
the Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the Utah Supreme Court
but, except as necessary to the opinion, shall not interpret other
(2) Requests Outside Committee Authority. The following requests
are outside the Committee’s authority:
(i) Requests for approval
of past conduct, unless it or similar conduct is likely to recur
or the Board requests a specific opinion;
(ii) Requests for opinions on conduct of specific lawyers that
is the subject of formal dispute resolution proceedings, including,
but not limited to, Bar disciplinary proceedings and civil, criminal
and administrative proceedings, except when requested by a tribunal
with jurisdiction over the matter; and
(iii) Requests for legal, rather than ethics opinions.
(3) Requests Within Committee Authority. A request that
is otherwise within the Committee’s authority may be declined
by the Committee in its discretion if:
(i) The request does not
involve a significant subject or involves isolated conduct; or
(ii) The request is clearly resolved by applicable Committee opinions,
the Rules of Professional Conduct, statutes or case law.
II. Membership. Back
(a) Number of Voting Members. The Committee shall consist of up
to 14 voting members. At least one voting member should be a sitting
or former judge.
(b) Qualifications of Voting Members. Voting members shall be
active members of the Bar in good standing. Members shall be willing
to perform Committee obligations in a timely way and shall have
demonstrated the ability to craft well-reasoned, articulate opinions.
(c) Term of Appointments. Appointments shall be for three-year
terms running concurrently with the Bar’s fiscal year beginning
July 1, with approximately one-third of the terms expiring each
(d) Manner of Appointments and Selection
Panel. The President
of the Bar shall appoint the Committee Chair (the “Chair”)
and any judicial member. The Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee
Selection Panel (the “Selection Panel”) shall appoint
the other members. The Selection Panel shall consist of the Bar
President, the Bar Commissioner who serves as liaison to the Committee,
and the Chair.
(e) Selection Panel Procedure. The Selection Panel shall proceed
(1) Prior to the first day of July of every year, the Selection
Panel shall solicit applications for members by publishing a notice
in the Utah Bar Journal or other approved publication. The notice
shall describe the Committee, its duties and the qualifications
for its members.
(2) Interested attorneys shall submit written applications outlining
their areas of practice and interest in serving on the Committee.
(3) The Selection Panel shall appoint qualified members, with
due regard for balance among substantive practice areas, type of
practice (small firm, government, etc.), geographical location,
experience and other relevant factors.
(f) Lay Member. The Selection Panel may appoint a Utah resident
who is not an attorney as a non-voting member.
(g) Office of Professional Conduct Consultant. An attorney from
the Office of Professional Conduct of the Bar (the “Office
of Professional Conduct”) may serve as a non-voting consultant
to the Committee.
(h) Default Resignation. A member who is absent from four consecutive
regularly scheduled meetings shall be deemed to have resigned unless,
prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting after four consecutive
absences, the member serves on the Chair a written statement of
commitment to continue as an active member.
(i) Unfilled Terms. The Selection Panel shall fill vacancies created
by resignation, death, default resignation and otherwise prior
to normal termination of an appointment, but without having to
follow otherwise required notice procedures.
(j) Vice-Chair and Secretary. The Chair may designate members
of the Committee as Vice-Chair and Secretary.
III. Procedure. Back
(a) Requests for Opinions.
(1) The Board, any member of the Bar in good standing or other
person with a significant interest in obtaining an advisory opinion
on legal ethics may request an opinion.
(2) Requests shall be in writing and filed with the Committee,
the Board or the Office of Professional Conduct. Requests filed
with the Board or the Office of Professional Conduct shall be forwarded
to the Committee.
(3) Requests shall include:
(i) A brief description of the facts;
(ii) A concise statement of the issue presented;
(iii) Reference to relevant Rules of Professional Conduct; and
(iv) Citations to relevant ethics opinions, judicial decisions
(b) Disposition of Requests. The Committee may dispose of a request
by issuing, in its discretion:
(1) A formal Ethics Opinion; or
(2) A Letter Response declining the request pursuant to § I(b)(2)
or § I(b)(3).
(c) Committee Procedures.
(1) The Chair or the Chair’s designee shall review the request
and make a preliminary determination on whether the request (A)
must be declined as outside the scope of the Committee’s
authority, (B) should be declined in the Committee’s discretion,
or (C) should be the subject of an opinion.
(2) The Committee shall review the preliminary determination
of the Chair or the Chair’s designee.
(3) The Committee shall consider whether its analysis and resolution
of the issues discussed in the request would materially benefit
from the views of potentially affected or interested persons
and organizations. The Committee may (A) seek the views of Bar
members through appropriate Bar sections and committees or through
for Comment on a Pending Ethics Issue,” published in the
Utah Bar Journal or posted on the Bar’s web site, (B) invite
or approve requests for oral or written presentations to the
Committee, or (C) consult with the Office of Professional Conduct.
(4) If the request exceeds the authority of the Committee or
the Committee determines to decline the request, the Committee
shall issue a letter pursuant to § III(b)(2).
(5) If the request is within the Committee’s authority
and the Committee determines to issue an opinion,
(i) The Chair shall assign the request to one or more Committee
members, who shall prepare a draft opinion within the time as the
(ii) The Chair shall circulate the draft opinion to the Committee
and place it on the agenda for the next Committee meeting.
(iii) The Committee shall consider the draft opinion.
(iv) Draft opinions may be returned to the opinion drafters for
light of the comments of the Committee members.
(v) A draft opinion shall become an Ethics Opinion of the Committee
by majority vote of the voting members present at a regularly or
specially scheduled meeting of the Committee. If the principal
issues of a draft opinion have been discussed in at least one regularly
or specially scheduled Committee meeting, the opinion may be approved
by majority vote without a further meeting. The Chair may solicit
votes by any appropriate means, including facsimile, e-mail or
(vi) One or more Committee members may issue dissenting or concurring
opinions, which shall be included with any main opinion issued
by the Committee.
(6) Members should recuse themselves when they may not be able
to address an issue impartially.
(d) Publication Procedures.
(1) The Committee shall provide prompt notice of its Ethics Opinions,
including information about seeking review of opinions by the Board:
(i) To the person who requested the opinion, by mail; and
(ii) To members of the Bar and the public by publishing the
opinion or a summary in the Utah Bar Journal. The Committee
shall also make available the full text of the opinion for
publication on the Bar’s web page.
(2) Unless the Committee or the Board orders otherwise, an Ethics
Opinion is effective when issued by the Committee.
(e) Reconsideration and Appeal Procedures.
(1) Ethics Opinions.
(i) Within 30 days after the earlier of receipt of notice
of issuance of an Ethics Opinion or the last day of the last
calendar month printed on the face of the Utah Bar Journal
containing the publication of an Ethics Opinion under § III(d)(1)(ii),
a member of the Bar, or any other person upon a showing of
good cause, may either (A) file a petition for review with
the Board, requesting reversal or modification of the Ethics
Opinion and stating the basis in fact, law or policy for the
request, or (B) file a request for reconsideration with the
(ii) A request for reconsideration under § III(e)(1)(i)(B)
is optional and is not a required condition for seeking Board review.
If this option is selected, however, the provisions of § III(e)(2)(ii)
will apply to the request, and the time for submitting a petition
for review to the Board is governed by § III(e)(2)(iii).
(iii) Notwithstanding the filing of a request for review of
an Ethics Opinion pursuant to this § III(e)(1), the Opinion
shall remain in full force and effect for the period during
which the review is pending, unless the Board, in its discretion,
issues a stay pending the outcome.
(2) Letter Responses. Within 30 days of receipt of a Letter
Response under § III(b)(2), the recipient may submit to
the Committee a written request for reconsideration, stating
the basis in fact, law or policy for the request. The recipient
may also request oral argument.
(i) Condition for Board Review. No person may seek Board review
of a Letter Response until a request for reconsideration has been
filed with the Committee under this section and has become subject
to final disposition by the Committee.
(ii) Denial by Operation of Time. If the Committee does not grant
a request for reconsideration within 60 days of its filing with
the Committee, the request may be deemed denied for purposes of
seeking Board review. If the Committee does not issue a written,
final disposition within 60 days after granting a request for reconsideration,
the request may be deemed denied for purposes of seeking Board
review. The Chair of the Committee may extend either, but not both,
60-day period in this section by up to 30 days by written notification
to the party requesting reconsideration.
(iii) Review by the Board. Within 30 days after (A) receipt
of notice of the Committee’s final disposition of a request
for reconsideration of a Letter Response or (B) the operation of § III(e)(2)(ii),
a recipient of a Letter Response may file with the Board a
petition for review, requesting reversal or modification of
the Letter Response and stating the basis in fact, law or policy
for the request.
IV. Meetings. Back
(a) Schedule. The Committee shall hold scheduled meetings every
month except July and at such other times as the Chair may designate.
(b) Location. The Committee may meet at the Utah Law and Justice
Center or such other places as the Chair may designate.
(c) Quorum. To conduct official business at a Committee meeting,
more than 50% of the voting members must be present, either in
person or by telephone or audio-visual conference call.
(d) Minutes. The Secretary or other member of the Committee designated
by the Chair shall prepare and the Committee shall approve minutes
of Committee meetings.
V. Opinions. Back
(a) All Opinions Formal. All Committee opinions shall be formal
opinions. The Committee shall not issue informal opinions.
(b) Effect. A lawyer who acts in accordance with an ethics advisory
opinion enjoys a rebuttable presumption of having abided by the
Utah Rules of Professional Conduct.
(c) Publication. Ethics advisory opinions shall be published as
soon as practicable as specified in § III(d)(1)(ii). The Chair
or the Chair’s designee shall also make reasonable efforts
to obtain publication of opinions in appropriate compilations.
VI. Confidentiality. Back
The identity of persons or entities involved in a request for
an opinion shall not be disclosed in the opinion without their
consent. Committee members may not disclose the particulars of
pending issues or circulate draft opinions to persons outside the
Committee; provided, however, that: (a) members may be assisted
by their partners, colleagues, employees, associates or law student
volunteers in researching and drafting opinions; (b) members may
discuss general principles of law and ethics as they relate to
a pending issue with non Committee members; and (c) an attorney
from the Office of Professional Conduct serving as a non-voting
consultant to the Committee may circulate draft opinions to members
of the Office of Professional Conduct. Those assisting a Committee
member and members of the Office of Professional Conduct must also
observe the confidentiality requirements of this section.