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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    July 26, 2019

    Your State Bar
    Ethical Dilemma? Don't Leave It to Chance

    Best guesses might be appropriate for "Final Jeopardy!" questions, but they aren't for ethical quandaries. Turn to the State Bar's Ethics Hotline instead. 

    Larry J. Martin

    When I travel the state, State Bar of Wisconsin members are never shy about letting me know what is on their minds. I’m always ready to listen to how we can better serve you and what your State Bar can be doing better to help address the challenges and issues you face in your practices.  

    Larry J. MartinLarry J. Martin is the executive director for the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    Lately, I’ve been asking members what they like about the State Bar. Depending on the nature or area of the practice, I get a variety of answers. Free access to Fastcase, our high-quality CLE programs and publications, engagement with sections, the WisLAP and Practice411 programs, and the Solo & Small Firm Conference and the Annual Meeting & Conference are just a few examples that rank pretty high.

    There is one State Bar service that I consistently hear positive comments about regardless of where I am or who I talk with – our ethics program, more specifically, the State Bar’s Ethics Hotline.

    The hotline provides a confidential and safe space for all lawyers, in all types of practices, to discuss their ethical concerns. The goal of the hotline is to provide lawyers with the information and analysis they need to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Sometimes, based on the rules and ethics opinions, the answers are pretty straightforward. At other times, the answers may require delving further into the facts, relying on analogy, and assessing the individual lawyer’s tolerance for risk.

    The hotline covers a wide range of ethical questions that are part and parcel of the everyday practice of law: How can I transfer funds electronically from my trust account? When must I tell my firm and my clients that I am interviewing for a job with a firm that represents an opposing party? What should I do with 30 years of files? What must I give to the client as part of the file when my representation ends? How can I respond to negative Google reviews? Must I disclose to the court that a document included in the proceeding is not authentic, even though the case is over?

    The State Bar has two of the best ethics counsel anywhere – attorneys Tim Pierce and Aviva Kaiser. Between them they have an unmatched wealth of knowledge and expertise.          

    Last year they answered more than 3,500 hotline calls; gave 60 CLE presentations; and authored numerous ethics opinions and articles for the Wisconsin Lawyer and “Ethical Dilemmas” columns for InsideTrack.

    There is one State Bar service that I consistently hear positive comments about regardless of where I am or who I talk with – the State Bar’s Ethics Hotline.

    Together and in coordination with WisLAP and Practice411, our ethics program works to help you maintain your professional competence.

    Over the last few years, we have directed more resources into the program and are committed to continuing to provide you with an unparalleled level of support and guidance.

    Fortunately, you don’t have to leave your ethical dilemmas to chance. As a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, you have an exclusive resource to help you. Assistance is just a phone call away.


    Don’t Leave it to Chance

    Connect with the Ethics Hotline: Call toll-free (800) 254-9154, or (608) 229-2017. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.


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