CBA Ethics Committee: How to request an ethics opinion from the CBA Committee on Professional Ethics

1. Write the request (although you are welcome to call first. See below)

  • The request should set forth the facts and circumstances giving rise to the request. If you think a particular Rule applies cite it.
  • If you are inquiring about someone else’s conduct, say so in the beginning.
  • If the request is related to a matter in litigation, say so in the beginning and state whether the issue you are inquiring about is likely to be decided by a court. If it is, it is highly unlikely the committee will issue an opinion.
  • If you are inquiring about an advertising issue, rather than request an opinion from the ethics committee, consider seeking an advisory opinion from the Statewide Grieveance Committee under the new lawyer advertising regulatory rules. Ethics committee opinions are non-binding. At the end of the day, SWG advisory opinions will, one way or another, be binding.

2. Send the request by email or regular mail to:

John R. Logan, Chair, CBA Committee on Professional Ethics email:  jlogan@torringtonlaw.com

3. The committee will only issue opinions in response to written requests in accordance iwth committee rules.
The process:

1. The identity of the requestor is known only by the Chair and by the member of the committee to whom the request is assigned.

2. The Chair, or in his absence, the Vice Chair, assigns the request to a member of the committee for preparation of a draft opinion. (There are 55 members of the committee.)

3. The drafter sends her draft to the Chair who sends the draft to all committee members before the next meeting.

4. The drafter presents her draft to the committee, which discusses, debates and votes on each draft. Sometimes the discussions and debates are long. Drafts are either approved as drafted, amended and approved, or recommitted for further work in accordance with the occassionally elusive sense of the committee. the committee can, and sometimes does, vote not to issue an opinion for any one of a number of reasons consistent with committee rules.

5. Once the committee makes a decision, the Chair notifies the requestor and sends her a copy of the opinion, assuming there is one.

6. The opinion is then sent to the CBA where it will be available immediately in paper format and eventually online in the Casemaker library available free of charge to CBA members at www.ctbar.org.

7. Under normal circumstances, the process takes months. The committee is scheduled to meet each month except August. The committee does have an expedited process of dealing with emergency requests. In the past, “emergency” has meant a life and death situation (the risk of suicide for example) or the risk of bodily harm.

8. The committee does not conduct investigations or making findings of fact. While the committee may contact the requestor and other lawyers whose conduct is at issue for additional information, the committee relies on assumptions of fact provided to it.

The committee intends that its opinions be useful and persuasive. However, committee opinions are not binding.

For further information, you are invited to contact committee chair, Wick R. Chambers at wick.chambers@winnicklaw.com or 1-203-772-4400 x320