Opinion Requests

If you are an attorney looking for quick guidance concerning an ethics question or an ethics dilemma you currently face, you can contact the State Bar Ethics Hotline, a telephone ethics research service for attorneys only. You can reach the Hotline by calling 1-800-238-4427 (within California) or 415-538-2150 (outside California), between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m, Monday-Friday.

If you wish to pose a hypothetical question for the Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC) to address by the issuance of a formal opinion, please read the following requirements before submitting your request. Section 6 of the Committee's Rules of Procedure of the State Bar, provides that COPRAC is precluded from acting upon a request for an ethics opinion or issuing an opinion in any of the following situations.

  1. The requesting attorney is a member of a local bar association which has an ethics committee, provided that the committee may respond to the inquiry if forwarded by a local bar association ethics committee or if the request concerns an ethics problem on which there is a division of views among local bar association ethics opinions.
  2. There is a pending State Bar complaint, investigation, proceeding or litigation concerning the subject of the request.
  3. The request constitutes a complaint against member(s) of the State Bar.
  4. The request involves procedures employed by the bar in processing complaints against members of the State Bar.
  5. The request involves questions or issues, the resolution of which turns principally on law unrelated to the law governing lawyers.
  6. Where it is known that the request involves a situation in litigation or concerns threatened litigation or involves the propriety of sanctions within the purview of the courts, such as contempt.
  7. The chair and vice-chair have jointly determined that it would be inadvisable to respond to the request.

* The following local bar associations have established ethics committees which provide ethics opinions to members practicing within their counties: Los Angeles County Bar Association, Orange County Bar Association, San Diego County Bar Association, and Bar Association of San Francisco.

The process for issuance of a formal opinion is lengthy, requiring circulation of the draft opinion for a 90-day public comment period, followed by a 30-day approval period before the State Bar Board of Trustees. These review periods follow a lengthy drafting process, in which the Committee proceeds cautiously to develop a well-reasoned opinion acceptable to a majority of the Committee members, and helpful to the largest possible number of practitioners. 

Please send your request by mail to:

Andrew Tuft, Staff Counsel
State Bar of California
Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105