I. Enabling Authority.
The Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee (“the Committee”)
shall be a standing committee of the Utah State Bar (“the
Bar”). The Committee is the body designated by the Board
of Bar Commissioners of the Utah State Bar (“the Board”)
to consider requests for advisory opinions concerning the ethical
propriety of professional or personal conduct of Bar members and
to issue and publish formal written opinions in appropriate cases.
Its duties, authority and procedures are specifically set forth
in the Rules of Procedure of the Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee
(“the Rules”), as approved and amended from time to
time by the Board.
II. General Responsibility.
Pursuant to its Rules, the Committee shall receive and respond
to requests for ethics advisory opinions concerning Utah lawyers’ ethical
behavior under the Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the
Utah Supreme Court.
III. Ethics Opinions and Letter Responses.
The Committee shall respond to all requests for ethics advisory
opinions either by issuing a formal Ethics Opinion to be published
and applicable to all affected members of the Bar, or by issuing
a Letter Response to the requesting party, as the Committee deems
appropriate. The Committee will not issue “informal opinions,” but
may respond to a request for an ethics advisory opinion by Letter
Response if, in Committee’s judgment, the request does not
warrant the issuance of a formal Ethics Opinion.
IV. Relation to Office of Professional Conduct.
The Committee shall be independent from the Office of Professional
Conduct of the Utah State Bar. However, the Committee’s Rules
shall provide that the Committee shall include one lawyer designated
by that Office to sit as a non-voting member of the Committee and
serve as consultant to the Committee.
V. Effect of Ethics Opinions.
When issued and published by the Committee, an Ethics Opinion
shall be advisory in nature. A Utah lawyer who acts in accordance
with an Ethics Opinion enjoys a rebuttable presumption of having
abided by the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct.
VI. Reconsideration and Review Procedures.
(a) Petition for Review. Ethics Opinions and Letter Responses
issued by the Committee are subject to review by the Board pursuant
to the procedures set forth in this Article VI.
(i) Ethics Opinions. Within the
times specified in § VI(b),
any member of the Bar in good standing, or any other person
upon a showing of good cause, may petition the Board for review
of an Ethics Opinion issued by the Committee by filing a written
request for reversal or modification of the Ethics Opinion
or for other relief, stating the bases in fact, law or policy
for the request. A petition for review under this provision
need not be preceded by a request for reconsideration to the
Committee. However, a reconsideration request is optional under
Rules and does not preclude or prejudice a subsequent, timely-filed
petition for review to the Board.
(ii) Letter Responses. A recipient
of a Letter Response may petition the Board for review of the
Letter Response only by first filing a request for reconsideration
of the letter by the Committee under the Committee’s
Rules. Upon final disposition of the request for reconsideration
by the Committee, the person may seek review of the Committee’s
action by filing with the Board a petition for review, stating
the bases in fact, law or policy for the request and the requested
(b) Time for Review.
(i) Ethics Opinions. Any person
who seeks Board review of an Ethics Opinion must file a petition
for review within 30 days after the earlier of (1) the person’s
receipt of service of the Ethics Opinion or the Committee’s
final disposition of a request for reconsideration, as applicable,
or (2) the last day of the last calendar month printed on the
face of the Utah Bar Journal containing notice of the Ethics
(ii) Letter Responses. A recipient of a Letter Response
who seeks Board review of a Letter Response under § VI(a)(ii)
must file a petition for review within 30 days after the Committee’s
issuance of a final response to a request for reconsideration
or upon the denial of the request for reconsideration by the
expiration of time as specified in the Committee’s Rules.
Notice of Petition for Review. Any person filing a petition
for review of an Ethics Opinion or a Letter Response with the
Board shall serve a copy of the petition on the Chair of the
(d) Effect Pending Appeal. Notwithstanding the filing of a petition
for review of an Ethics Opinion pursuant to these provisions, the
Ethics Opinion shall remain in full force and effect for the period
during which the review is pending, unless the Board, upon motion
or sua sponte, issues a stay pending appeal.
(e) Procedure by Board Upon Receipt of Timely
Petition for Review. Upon receipt of a timely
petition for review of an Ethics Opinion or Letter Response,
the Board, or a subcommittee of the Board specifically designated
for such task, shall review the petition. The Board or subcommittee
may affirm, overrule or remand the Opinion or Letter Response
to the Ethics Advisory Committee, after conducing such procedures
as it deems appropriate, which may, but need not, include a stay
of enforcement of the Opinion, requests for comment from members
of the Bar, amicus briefs, hearings, or any other such proceedings
as the Board in its discretion deems appropriate.
Review. A Utah lawyer in good standing who does not meet the
time requirements of § VI(b)(i) may at any time
file with the Board a petition for review of an Ethics Opinion
that otherwise meets the requirements of § VI(a)(i). The Board
will refer any petition for review filed under this section to
the Committee for initial consideration and recommendation. Upon
receipt of the recommendation of the Committee, the Board will
take such action on the petition for review as it deems appropriate.
VII. Publication and Reports to the Board
(a) Publication. The Committee shall publish all Ethics Opinions
by submitting official copies to (i) the Executive Director of
the Bar and (ii) a person designated by the Executive Director,
who will include the full text of the Opinions on the Bar’s
Internet website and provide a timely, prominent notice on the
Bar’s “home page” of the issuance of new opinions.
The Committee shall also take reasonable steps to make the opinions
available to other commercial and non-profit publishers of legal
(b) Quarterly Summaries. No less frequently than quarterly, the
Chair of the Committee or the Chair’s designee shall give
the Board a summary of the Ethics Opinions issued by the Committee
since the last such report and any significant Letter Responses
recently issued by the Committee or other notable Committee activity
(c) Annual Report. The Chair of the Committee shall submit
a written annual report to the Board by March 1 of each year, summarizing
the actions taken by the Committee in the previous calendar year.
The report should include information concerning the number of
requests for opinions submitted to the Committee, the number of
opinions issued, the general issues addressed in the opinions,
and a summary of other matters such as Letter Responses processed
by the Committee.
The foregoing Rules Governing
the Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee of the Utah State Bar and
review of that Committee’s actions
by the Board of Bar Commissioners were adopted by resolution of
the Board at its meeting of January 26, 2001 and amended April