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Withdrawn Ethics Opinions

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E-01-01Formal Opinion E-01-01: Threatening Criminal Prosecution or Professional Discipline
Professional Ethics Opinion E-01-01 considers whether lawyers may threaten criminal prosecution or disciplinary action in relation to a civil matter.
147 KB E-01-01.pdf
E-00-01Formal Opinion E-00-01: (Withdrawn by EF-10-02) Dividing Fees Between Lawyers Not in the Same Firm
Professional Ethics opinion E-00-01 considers the division of fees between lawyers not in the same firm and defines "[j]oint responsibility for the presentation" in SCR 20:1.5(e).
41 KB E-00-01.pdf
E-00-03Formal Opinion E-00-03: Electronic files; client's demand for electronically stored documents (Withdrawn by EF-16-03)
Professional Ethics Opinion E-00-3 considers whether lawyers must provide clients with disk copies of the clients' documents, including what files belong to clients, who owns the computer files, and who pays for retrieving the documents.
23 KB E-00-03.pdf
E-98-1Formal Opinion E-98-1: Disposition of Closed Client Files (Withdrawn by EF-17-01)
What are a law firm's responsibilities with regard to dormant client files? Do those responsibilities change when the law firm has dissolved and the files are being maintained by lawyers who may not have had contact with the clients involved?
89 KB E-98-1.pdf
E-97-1Formal Opinion E-97-1: Limitation of representation in residential real estate transactions
May a lawyer ethically limit the scope of the lawyer's representation in a residential real estate transaction to drafting a deed and transfer return?
11 KB E-97-1.pdf
E-93-5Formal Opinion E-93-5: Revealing identity of present and former clients and nature of representation
Prospective clients sometimes request information about a lawyer's experience in related matters before deciding whether to retain the lawyer, including the identity of present and former clients. Is client consent required for a lawyer to disclose that he or she represents or has represented a client in a certain type of matter when the information is sought for purposes of a prospective representation of another client?
6 KB E-93-5.pdf
E-92-6Formal Opinion E-92-6: Prosecutor contact with unrepresented criminal defendant (Withdrawn by E-09-02)
Before any court appearance has taken place and before defense counsel has been requested, retained or appointed, can a prosecutor ethically meet with a criminal defendant, ask questions and discuss the charge?
13 KB E-92-6.pdf
E-91-01Formal Opinion E-91-01: Communications with opposing party’s agents or employees (Withdrawn by E-07-01)
[Withdrawn by E-07-01] What, if any, prohibitions are there on attorney A speaking with the following groups of people: ...
11 KB E-91-01.pdf
E-91-2Formal Opinion E-91-2: Attorney’s fees, sufficiency of communication of fees to the client (Withdrawn by E-09-03)
A law firm proposes sending to each of its new clients an engagement letter, which recites the following: "Our fees will be based upon the ethical rules governing our practice. The amount of our statement will be the fair value of the services provided taking into account the time spent by the lawyers involved, the type of service we are being asked to perform, any special level of expertise required, the size and scope of the matter, the results obtained and other relevant considerations."
9 KB E-91-2.pdf
E-90-5Formal Opinion E-90-5: City attorney as defense counsel in state prosecutions
May a part-time city attorney or a member of the city attorney's law firm represent defendants in state prosecutions in which city law enforcement personnel are potential witnesses?
7 KB E-90-5.pdf
E-89-5Formal Opinion E-89-5: (Withdrawn by EF-10-03)Disqualification based upon initial consultation
(Withdrawn by EF-10-03)Under what circumstances may a lawyer's initial consultation with a prospective  client constitute grounds for the lawyer's disqualification in a matter in  which the lawyer is retained to oppose said client's interests?
10 KB E-89-5.pdf
E-89-16Formal Opinion E-89-16: Threatening to report lawyer misconduct (Withdrawn by E-01-01)
(Withdrawn by E-01-01) In the course of representing a client, may a lawyer threaten or assist in threatening opposing counsel with the filing of a professional misconduct complaint with the appropriate lawyer disciplinary authority?
7 KB E-89-16.pdf
E-87-1Formal Opinion E-87-1: City attorney/conflict of interest: Advocate and advisor to appellate board in the same matter
May a city attorney's office ethically serve both as an advocate of the city and a advisor to an appellate board or commission of the city in proceedings involving the same matter?
7 KB E-87-1.pdf
E-87-5Formal Opinion E-87-5: Threatening criminal action related to a civil claim (Withdrawn by E-01-01)
(Withdrawn by E-01-01) How, if at all, may an attorney ethically inform adverse parties that they may have engaged in possible criminal conduct, while the attorney represents a client with a civil claim against them?
10 KB E-87-5.pdf
E-87-6Formal Opinion E-87-6: Termination of law practice by solo practitioner: Sale and transfer of assets
What are the ethical considerations in transferring the physical assets and files of a law office in which the partner(s) or shareholder(s) has (have) ceased practicing law?
10 KB E-87-6.pdf
E-86-2Formal Opinion E-86-2: Office sharing arrangement (Withdrawn by E-00-02)
Lawyer A is a recent law school graduate who has opened a law office. A contacts Lawyer B who owns and operates law offices of B, a multi-member law firm which has been in operation for several years. B proposes the following arrangement whereby B would show A the ropes. B would turn over a substantial number of cases to A. In turn, A would turn over half of all the fees earned in those cases referred by B, to B. A would assume full responsibility and B would have no input on how the referred cases are to be processed. Further, A would rent space from B in B's building, and B would provide phone answering services for A. A is to maintain separate malpractice insurance, get his or her own secretary, purchase his or her own share of supplies and pay his or her own share of the phone bill.
12 KB E-86-2.pdf
E-86-8Formal Opinion E-86-8: District attorney conflict of interest: Disqualification of assistant DAs
The district attorney’s office in his/her county is staffed by the district attorney and one assistant district attorney. Prior to taking office, the district attorney represented various criminal defendants and individuals involved in Chapter 51 commitments and juveniles involved in delinquency petitions or other juvenile court matters. Some of these cases and matters are still pending, requiring prosecution in the district attorney’s county.
8 KB E-86-8.pdf
E-86-15Formal Opinion E-86-15: Disqualification: Former partner employed as assistant district attorney
Under these facts and circumstances: (1) what disclosures, if any, ought or must the departing lawyer make to the district attorney and the law firm to its clients with matters in which the district attorney's office has an interest; and (2) should the departing lawyer, the law firm or district attorney's office be disqualified from handling any particular category of case (e.g., pending cases being handled primarily by the departing lawyer while with the law firm)?
13 KB E-86-15.pdf
E-86-18Formal Opinion E-86-18: Public defender elected district attorney: Disqualification and screening
A trial attorney on the state public defender's staff is elected district attorney. The local public defender professional staff, of which he or she was a member, consisted of four attorneys. The district attorney's staff in question includes three assistant district attorneys. The county in which he or she will serve as district attorney is one of those served by his or her former local public defender's office.
10 KB E-86-18.pdf
E-85-11Formal Opinion E-85-11: Reporting lawyer misconduct and disclosure to clients
Law firm A represents law firm B. After an internal audit, law firm B discovered that a former associate of the firm has been reimbursed for travel and entertainment expenses that were never actually incurred. Law firm B had billed the fictitious travel expenses to clients who paid the firm for those expenses. Law firm B is now reimbursing those clients together with interest.
10 KB E-85-11.pdf
E-84-5Formal Opinion E-84-5: Disposition of closed client files (Withdrawn by EF-16-03)
A lawyer has retired from private legal practice and has inquired as to the proper procedures for disposition of closed client files in his possession. In particular, the lawyer has inquired as to how long closed client files should be retained.
7 KB E-84-5.pdf
E-83-2Formal Opinion E-83-2: Direct mail advertising
May attorneys mail a letter and flyer describing the firm's services and fees to prospective commercial clients?
10 KB E-83-2.pdf
E-83-18Formal Opinion E-83-18: Conflict of interest: Assistant district attorney representing husband in child support action after representing wife
An assistant district attorney is designated by the county board as attorney for the county's child support program. As such the assistant district attorney has represented Miss Y as an AFDC recipient in two paternity actions against Mr. X. The parties stipulated that each will have custody of one child and Mr. X will pay child support. Miss Y obtains employment and terminates AFDC, while Mr. X loses his job and becomes an AFDC recipient. Under federal and state law, the district attorney's office must now pursue collection of child support from Miss Y. Is it ethical to proceed against Miss Y?
9 KB E-83-18.pdf
E-83-19Formal Opinion E-83-19: Conflict of interest: Assistant district attorney pro tempore in private practice
An attorney recently resigned from the position of assistant district attorney and entered private practice. The firm that attorney joined does a moderate amount of criminal defense work and, in addition, routinely handles cases involving traffic and ordinance violations. The law firm also handles paternity and child support cases.
9 KB E-83-19.pdf
E-83-6Formal Opinion E-83-6: Trust accounts for multi-state practice
May an attorney engaged in multi-state practice deposit his clients' funds in a single trust account or must the attorney maintain a separate account for each jurisdiction?
5 KB E-83-6.pdf
E-83-12Formal Opinion E-83-12: City attorney acting as prosecutor while advising trier of fact
May a city attorney simultaneously prosecute a complaint filed under Wis. Stat. sec. 125.12 (1981-82) concerning the revocation, nonrenewal or suspension of a retail liquor license, while advising the administrative body that is the trier of fact on those charges?
12 KB E-83-12.pdf
E-82-7Formal Opinion E-82-7: Copying client's files (Withdrawn by EF-16-03)
Must an attorney provide, at his or her own expense, a complete duplicate of the file for a former client where the client has previously received copies of all parts of the file, excepting the attorney's personal notes, through routine copying during the course of the representation?
15 KB E-82-7.pdf
E-82-10Formal Opinion E-82-10: (Withdrawn by E-07-01) Communications with a party's former employees
[Withdrawn by E-07-01] In a pending action, may counsel for an adversary party contact a former managing agent of the corporation, who was an employee of that corporation at the time when certain material acts were taken which may form a partial basis for liability?
10 KB E-82-10.pdf
E-81-5Formal Opinion E-81-5: District attorney pro tempore conflict of interest
May a lawyer appointed by the court to act as district attorney pro tempore in accordance with the provisions of Section 59.44(1), Wisconsin Statutes, while acting under such appointment, also act as defense counsel in criminal matters in that county?
12 KB E-81-5.pdf
E-80-7Formal Opinion E-80-7: (Withdrawn by E-88-1) Spouse on Village Board
(Withdrawn by E-88-1) May an attorney properly serve as village attorney, if the attorney's spouse is a member of the board, which possesses the power of appointment to and removal from office?
6 KB E-80-7.pdf
E-80-12Formal Opinion E-80-12: Public defender candidate for D.A.
May a public defender, or an employee of that office, become a candidate for the office of district attorney while continuing to defend indigent clients under the present public defender system?
5 KB E-80-12.pdf
E-79-2Formal Opinion E-79-2: (Withdrawn by E-97-3) Mediation of divorces
A lawyer proposes to provide mediation services to married couples considering divorce. The lawyer proposes to (1) educate the parties as to their legal rights and responsibilities, (2) mediate any disputes which may arise in the course of the settlement negotiations, and (3) draft a separation agreement and related documents and appear in court to process the divorce. The lawyer further indicates s/he will refrain from representing either of the parties in any proceedings between them in the event an agreement cannot be reached and that each of the parties shall obtain an independent evaluation of any proposed marital settlement agreement by legal counsel other than the lawyer-mediator. The question before the committee is whether this conduct is ethical.
8 KB E-79-2.pdf
E-79-8Formal Opinion E-79-8: Part-time district attorney’s firm taking defense cases
If a partner in a firm is a part-time district attorney, are the other members of the firm disqualified from undertaking criminal defense work outside of _______ County, or ordinance and forfeiture cases in or out of _______ County so long as those actions do not involve the _______ County District Attorney's office in any fashion?
12 KB E-79-8.pdf
M-4-78 BMemorandum Opinion 4/78 B: Return of client's files (Withdrawn by EF-16-03)
An attorney must return to a client all documents and other materials the client has given to the attorney. S/he must also return any "end product" materials for which the client has paid. These items must be returned whether or not the client agrees to pay for photocopies.
5 KB M-4-78 B.pdf
M-4-78 CMemorandum Opinion 4/78 C: Permissible activities of a law clerk
A lawyer not yet admitted to the State Bar is properly designated as a law clerk and as such is not permitted to conduct activities constituting the practice of law, which are reserved for attorneys admitted to practice.
5 KB M-4-78 C.pdf
E-77-11Formal Opinion E-77-11: Ethical propriety of attorney member of Police and Fire Commission defending persons in criminal and traffic cases in the municipality (Withdrawn)
May an attorney member of the police and fire commission or any member of his firm represent criminal or traffic defendants where the police officers of the city are involved in investigation or prosecution?
15 KB E-77-11.pdf
M-11-77Memorandum Opinion 11/77: Attorney-client privilege: Disclosure of information
An attorney who is aware that an object of his/her client's was found at the scene of alleged criminal misconduct is not under an ethical obligation to disclose the existence of the object or where it was found to the authorities.
5 KB M-11-77.pdf
M-8-76 BMemorandum Opinion 8/76 B: Attorney-client privilege: Whereabouts of client who is fugitive from justice
Information an attorney has as to the whereabouts of a client who is a fugitive from justice comes within the attorney-client privilege, if the client has come to the attorney for advice regarding his rights as a fugitive or to negotiate a surrender. If, however, the client has come to the attorney for advice on how to remain a fugitive, information the attorney may gain as to the client's whereabouts is not privileged and must be revealed to inquiring authorities.
5 KB M-8-76 B.pdf
E-75-2Formal Opinion E-75-2: (Withdrawn by E-99-20) Multiple representation in automobile accident cases
[Withdrawn by E-99-2]The committee was requested to consider the ethical propriety of the proposed conduct of two attorneys who sought to represent multiple personal injury claimants as set forth in the hypothetical facts below.
12 KB E-75-2.pdf
M-12-75Memorandum Opinion 12/75: Municipal attorney handling criminal cases (Withdrawn)
Representation of criminal defendants by members of a law firm serving as municipal attorneys is improper where the police officers of that municipality are involved.
4 KB M-12-75.pdf
M-7-71Memorandum Opinion 7/71: Accepting fees from criminal indigent improper
The committee confirmed its 1965 informal opinion in which it had held that it is ethically improper for an attorney to accept funds from an indigent criminal defendant or his family for defense of the case after accepting funds from the state or county for such representation, without disclosing the entire matter to the court and to the governmental unit involved, on the basis that the attorney would be working a potential fraud or deception on the court which authorized the disbursement of public funds to the attorney for the defense of such defendant.
5 KB M-7-71.pdf
M-6-70 BMemorandum Opinion 6/70 B: Part-time city attorney may defend criminal cases
A part-time city attorney is permitted to accept private legal work, including defense of criminal cases. He may participate in criminal or traffic defense work in instances in which his municipality is not a plaintiff or the officers of that city are not involved in the investigation or acting as witnesses in the case.
4 KB M-6-70 B.pdf
M-6-70 CMemorandum Opinion 6/70 C: District attorney defending criminal, traffic cases is improper
A part-time district attorney may not represent a defendant in criminal or traffic cases brought by the state or county in an adjacent jurisdiction.
5 KB M-6-70 C.pdf
M-2-69 CMemorandum Opinion 2/69 C: D.A. partners may not defend criminal cases
The Ethics Committee reaffirmed its earlier opinion that the partners of a part-time district attorney may not represent defendants in criminal actions in the same or adjacent counties.
5 KB M-2-69 C.pdf
M-7-68 BMemorandum Opinion 7/68 B: Part-time corporation counsel in criminal cases
The Ethics Committee concluded that in those counties in which the parttime corporation counsel is not required by county ordinance to assist the district attorney in the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases, ordinance violations and paternity proceedings, both his private law partners and himself may accept the defense of such actions. If he is required to assist, then his partners and himself may not accept such defense work.
5 KB M-7-68 B.pdf
M-9-65 BMemorandum Opinion 9/65 B: Indigent client charged with crime
It is improper for an attorney to accept funds from the county to represent an indigent defendant charged with a crime, and subsequently bill the client or his family for fees in the same case.
5 KB M-9-65 B.pdf