As a State Bar member, you have access to guidance and help in resolving questions regarding Wisconsin's Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys. There are a number of ways in which you can receive ethics guidance:
Ethics hotline: To informally and confidentially discuss an ethics question, contact the State Bar's ethics counsel, Timothy Pierce, or Aviva Meridian Kaiser. They can be reached at (608) 229-2017 or (800) 254-9154, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ethics hotline is an advisory service that puts you in touch with an experienced ethics lawyer who can discuss relevant Rules and case law and provide non-binding guidance to help Wisconsin lawyers conform their own conduct to the Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys.
The ethics hotline service for members of the State Bar of Wisconsin only, although questions from non-Wisconsin lawyers who are practicing legally in Wisconsin, such as registered in-house counsel lawyers or lawyers practicing in Wisconsin pursuant to a pro hac vice admission, questions from non-Wisconsin lawyers seeking guidance with respect to SCR 20:5.5 and questions from law office support staff will normally be answered.
The ethics hotline service cannot answer questions from the general public about the conduct of Wisconsin lawyers, nor does ethics hotline receive, evaluate or investigate complaints against Wisconsin lawyers – all such complaints must be directed to the Office of Lawyer Regulation (877-315-6941).
Further, the ethics hotline service cannot offer an opinion on the behavior of a third party, such as opposing counsel, and cannot respond to hypothetical questions.
Ethics opinions: To access the full text of ethics opinions written by the State Bar Professional Ethics Committee, visit the Ethics Opinions archive. To request a copy of a particular ethics opinion, contact Customer Service. In addition, Wisconsin Ethics Opinions, published by State Bar CLE Books, contains the complete text of ethics opinions, along with a detailed subject index.
To request an opinion: To request a Professional Ethics Committee opinion addressing your specific concern, send a letter outlining your question to the committee in care of the State Bar. Pursuant to Article 4, Section 3 of the State Bar's by-laws, the Committee cannot provide an opinion on the past or present conduct of a specific member of the Bar. Therefore, opinion requests must be limited to advice with respect to prospective behavior only.
State Bar resources: The State Bar produces a number of books and products and sponsors a variety of CLE seminars to provide lawyers with practical ethics guidance and to help them fulfill their ethics and professional responsibility requirements.
Materials and links on these pages are intended to provide only guidance and are not legal authority. Some information is from jurisdictions other than Wisconsin and references the law of other jurisdictions. Lawyers using these materials must conform their practices to the law of the appropriate jurisdiction.