Ethics Counsel on www.OKbar.org

New OBA Panel Issues First Ethics Opinion

By Gina Hendryx, OBA Ethics Counsel

The newly formed Legal Ethics Advisory Panel (LEAP) has issued its first advisory opinion which can be found in this issue of the Oklahoma Bar Journal. LEAP is comprised of OBA members who serve in an advisory capacity for members seeking written opinions concerning the compliance of an intended future course of conduct with the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct (ORPC). Similar to its predecessor, the Legal Ethics Committee, LEAP responds with formal, written ethics opinions.

The panel consists of 18 active OBA members. Panel members must be active members of the OBA for at least 10 years prior to appointment. The panel members are assigned to one of two divisions. One division sits in Tulsa County and the other in Oklahoma County. Each division consists of nine members and at least six of the nine must concur in any opinion. Roger Scott, an OBA member in Tulsa, is the current panel coordinator and a member of the Tulsa panel. Panel members are appointed by the OBA president and serve for a term of three years.

Any member of the OBA may submit a request for a legal ethics advisory opinion. Requests should relate to prospective conduct only and should contain a complete statement of all facts pertaining to the intended conduct along with a clear, concise question of ethics being presented to the panel. The member requesting the opinion may also submit a memorandum setting forth any research, authority and/or conclusions reached concerning the request.

LEAP strives to issue timely disposition of issues presented. Advisory opinions will address only whether an intended course of conduct would violate the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct. No opinion of LEAP shall be binding on any lawyer disciplinary body. The opinions are not to be construed an anything other than advisory in nature.

Once published in the OBJ, advisory opinions are subject to revision or withdrawal. Any member in good standing with the OBA may seek modification, correction, clarification or withdrawal of an advisory opinion. An application for such relief must be submitted to the panel coordinator within 30 days of the publication date of the opinion and must contain a plain statement of the relief sought, a proposed advisory opinion containing the requested modification or correction and all supporting documents and authorities upon which the application is sought. Applications for the withdrawal of an advisory opinion should contain the same supporting documents and authorities. If no such application is timely received, the advisory opinion becomes final.

Appeals are first reviewed by the issuing division. The panel division will decide whether to affirm the advisory opinion as published or modify, correct, clarify or withdraw the opinion. The advisory opinion, whether affirmed or modified, will again be published in the OBJ with a notation indicating the actions of the panel division and any appeal there from must be filed with the OBA Board of Governors no later than 30 days from the date of publication of the affirmed or modified advisory opinion.

A full text of the Legal Ethics Advisory Panel rules can be found here.

Have an ethics question? It’s a member benefit, and all inquiries are confidential. Contact Ms. Hendryx at ginah@okbar.org or (405) 416-7083; (800) 522-8065.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- Oct.7, 2006 -- Vol. 77; No.27