Bar Counsel Notes: Using Bar Counsel's Ethics Helpline

Attorney X called Bar Counsel's "Ethics Helpline" - (207) 623-1122 - on questions regarding another attorney's potential conflict of interests related to a pending real estate dispute. May Bar Counsel answer the question?

No. Bar Counsel declined to provide X with any informal advisory opinion, based upon the specific restrictions of Board of Overseers of the Bar Regulation No. 28. Under that Regulation, Bar Counsel may provide non-binding informal advisory opinions to Maine attorneys for interpretations of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct. Those opinions, however, must involve factual conduct of the inquiring attorney or another attorney at that attorney's law firm. Bar Counsel cannot and will not provide an attorney with any advice or suggestions as to the propriety of another attorney's conduct as described by the inquiring attorney.

*Disclaimer: The Informal Ethics Advisory Notes from Bar Counsel are intended as outreach by the office of Bar Counsel for the use and benefit of the Maine bar. These scenarios are drawn from actual telephone calls received by the attorneys in the office of Bar Counsel in the course of providing informal advice on the Code of Professional Responsibility, known as Bar Counsel's "Ethics Hotline." The particular advice in each case is limited with reference to the particular factual situation related by the inquiring attorney who must be inquiring about his or her own conduct or the conduct of a member of his or her firm. We do not provide any advice to one attorney about the conduct of another attorney unless they are members of the same law firm. In the telephone opinions, we usually explore and discuss additional factual variables. However, I have attempted to pare down these factual scenarios to make the email newsletter more readable and useful in a general sense. Obviously, that creates the risk that slight variations on the facts, to a learned reader, may give rise to a different analysis and conclusion.