Washington State Ethics Opinions: Attorneys

Updated June 11, 2012.
Prepared by Cheryl Nyberg. Updated by Lori Fossum (2009).

This guide covers ethics rules and opinions governing the conduct of attorneys. The organization of the attorney discipline system is outlined on the Washington State Bar Association website.

Note: LexisNexis and Westlaw are available only to subscribers with individual passwords and IDs.


Court rules govern lawyer conduct and discipline.

Free Websites

Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC)
Cover communication, competence, conflict of interests, duties to former clients, fees, trust accounts, and related matters.

Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct (ELC)
Cover the attorney disciplinary process and the role of the Washington Supreme Court, the disciplinary board,  hearing officers, and related matters.

Commercial Databases


LexisNexis: WA - Washington State and Federal Court Rules

Secondary Sources

Orland & Tegland, Rules Practice, 6th ed. (Washington Practice Series vols. 2 & 3) and 7th ed.  (Washington Practice Series vols. 4A & 4B)
KFW80.W3 at Reference Area & Westlaw
Includes citations to court decisions and Washington State Bar Association formal and informal ethics opinions.

Washington Court Rules: State, annual. Includes RPC and ELC.
KFW529.A198 at Reference Area & Reference Office

Washington Court Rules Annotated, annual. Includes text of rules and annotations.
KFW529.A196 at Reference Area

Washington Rules of Court Annotated, annual. Includes text of rules and annotations to court opinions citing and applying the court rules.
KFW529.A196 at Reference Area


Advisory Opinions

Advisory ethics opinions are issued by the Washington State Bar Association to assist “members in interpreting their ethical obligations.”Washington State Bar Association logo

Prior to September 2010, the Bar Association issued formal and informal ethics opinions. In addition, the Rules of Professional Conduct were substantially revised in 2006. Many opinions that no longer apply have been withdrawn.

Free Website

WSBA Advisory Opinions
A searchable database


Disciplinary & Nondisciplinary Notices

Disbarment, reprimand, and suspension notices are published in the Washington State Bar News, under the heading: Listings: Disciplinary Notices.

Free Website

WSBA, Discipline Notice Search
A searchable database, 1997-date.

Secondary Source

Washington Lawyer Discipline Manual: Including Rule Changes Through January 12, 2010.
KFW76.5.A2 W3 2010 at Reference Area


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