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.
- 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.
- There is a pending State Bar complaint, investigation, proceeding or litigation concerning the subject of the request.
- The request constitutes a complaint against member(s) of the State Bar.
- The request involves procedures employed by the bar in processing complaints against members of the State Bar.
- The request involves questions or issues, the resolution of which turns principally on law unrelated to the law governing lawyers.
- 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.
- 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