SUBCHAPTER D

Rules of the Standing Committees of the North Carolina State Bar

Section .0100 Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Legal Ethics

.0102 General Provisions

(a) An attorney may ask the Bar to rule on actual or contemplated professional conduct of an attorney as provided in this section .0100 of this subchapter. In special circumstances, a ruling on the contemplated professional conduct of an attorney may be provided in response to the request of a person who is not a member of the Bar. The grant or denial of a request rests within the discretion of the executive director, assistant executive director, designated staff counsel, the chairperson, the committee, or the council, as appropriate.

(b) An attorney may request an informal ethics advisory by letter, electronic mail, telephone, or personal meeting with an appropriate member of the Bar staff. The executive director, assistant executive director, or designated staff counsel may provide an informal ethics advisory to guide the inquiring attorney's own prospective conduct if the inquiry is routine, the responsive advice is readily ascertainable from the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct and formal ethics opinions, or the inquiry requires urgent action to protect some legal right, privilege, or interest.

(c) An attorney may request an ethics advisory or formal ethics opinion by sending a written inquiry to the Bar. The executive director, assistant executive director, or designated staff counsel may issue an ethics advisory to guide the inquiring attorney's own prospective conduct if the inquiry is routine, the responsive advice is readily ascertainable from the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct and formal ethics opinions, or the inquiry requires urgent action to protect some legal right, privilege, or interest. An inquiry requesting an opinion about the professional conduct of another attorney, past conduct, or that presents a matter of first impression or of general interest to the Bar shall be referred to the committee for response by ethics decision or formal ethics opinion.

(d) All ethics inquiries, whether written or verbal, shall present in detail all operative facts upon which the request is based. Inquiries should not disclose client confidences or other sensitive information not necessary to the resolution of the ethical question presented.

(e) Any attorney who requests an ethics opinion on the acts or contemplated professional conduct of another attorney, shall state, in the written inquiry, the name of the attorney and identify all persons whom the requesting attorney has reason to believe may be substantially affected by the response to the inquiry. The inquiry shall also provide evidence that the attorney whose conduct is at issue and all other identified interested persons have received copies of the inquiry from the requesting attorney.

(f) When a written ethics inquiry discloses conduct which may be actionable as a violation of the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct, the executive director, the assistant executive director, chairperson or the committee may refer the matter to the Grievance Committee for investigation.

(g) In general, no response shall be provided to an ethics inquiry that seeks an opinion on an issue of law.

(h) A decision not to issue a response to an ethics inquiry, whether by the executive director, assistant executive director, designated staff counsel, chairperson or the committee, shall not be appealable.

(i) Except as provided in Rule .0103(b) of this subchapter, the information contained in a request for an ethics opinion shall not be confidential.

History Note: Statutory Authority G.S. 84-23

Readopted Effective December 8, 1994

Amended March 5, 1998


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