Search Ethics Opinions
Search below by keyword, phrase or year for Formal Ethics Opinions issued between 1985 and 2016 by the State Bar of Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct Committee (“Ethics Committee”). Most opinions older than 1995 are available as Adobe Acrobat .pdf Files. Reading these files requires the Adobe Reader. Refer to Adobe PDF file viewing help for more information.
Counsel are reminded that the Rules of Professional Conduct may have been amended or revised since an opinion was issued. The same applies for any statutes or case law cited in ethics opinions. In some instances, the changes will affect the analysis and/or conclusion. If you have questions about any ethics opinion, you may contact the Ethics Hotline for guidance.
Using this form, it is also possible to construct sophisticated queries using the wildcard (*) and other search operators. Refer to the list of search tips for more information.
Search Opinions by Year:
Select a specific year or “All Years” to view opinions from the specified time frame
Summaries of Recent Opinions
16-01: Of Counsel; Fee Splitting “Of counsel” relationships are typically defined by the close, personal, continuous, and regular nature of the relationship. When a close, personal, continuous, and regular relationship exists between an “of counsel” lawyer and a firm, the “of counsel” will be considered a member of the same firm for purposes of Ethical Rule (ER) 1.5(e), governing fee splitting among lawyers, as well as for conflicts purposes. Opinion 86-03 is accordingly withdrawn.
15-02: Client Files; Safekeeping of Property; Maintaining Client Files; Termination of Representation Lawyers are ethically obligated, upon a client’s request at the conclusion of representation, to provide the client with the client’s documents and all documents reflecting work performed for the client. This obligation does not require the lawyer to retain paper or electronic documents generated or received in the course of the representation, that are duplicative of other documents generated or received in the course of the representation, incidental to the representation, or not typically maintained by a working lawyer, unless the lawyer has reason to believe that, in all the circumstances, the client’s interests require that these documents be preserved for eventual turning over to the client at the conclusion of the representation. Understanding the lawyer’s duty to preserve client documents in this manner advances client interests. It enables a lawyer to restrict “the file” to documents that actually assist the lawyer in competently and diligently representing the client, in the context of the particular client matter and the lawyer’s practice, as well as effectively communicating with the client and exercising professional judgment on the client’s behalf, rather than preserving anything and everything ever generated or received during the course of the representation. To the extent prior opinions of this Committee may be construed as asserting otherwise, they are withdrawn.
15-01: Plea Agreements; Waiver; Ineffective Assistance; Conflict of Interest; Criminal Representation The conflict-of-interest rules prohibit a defense attorney from advising a criminal defendant to waive the defendant’s right to raise that attorney’s ineffective assistance of counsel. The ethical rules also prohibit a prosecutor from insisting that a defendant waive the right to raise ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct claims. Opinion 95-08 is accordingly withdrawn.