Official Government Website

Formal Ethics Opinions of the Idaho State Bar

The Idaho State Bar Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued formal ethics opinions from 1944 until the Committee was suspended by the Board of Commissioners in 1994.  The last formal ethics opinion issued by the Committee was in 1992.  The Idaho State Bar Board of Commissioners issued one formal ethics opinion in 1999.

The Committee was suspended in 1994 and its continued viability was referred to a Long Range Planning Committee of the Idaho State Bar.  The Long Range Planning Committee met between 1995 and 1999 and evidently concluded that the Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility was no longer viable because it was discontinued.

The following formal ethics opinions, although dated, remain formal ethics opinions of the Idaho State Bar.  Since the current format of the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct was adopted in 1986 and has been amended a number of times since 1986, most of the formal ethics opinions do not address the current Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct.  Please note that many of these formal opinions have been designated obsolete, disavowed, overruled, superseded by another formal opinion, or subsequently addressed by an ABA ethics opinion.  The Notes column on the Formal Ethics Opinions List, the front page of the link to these formal ethics opinions, should therefore be consulted with respect to the subsequent treatment of any particular formal opinion.  However, the principles addressed in the formal opinions, to the extent they remain applicable and consistent with the current Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct are still utilized to interpreting the current Rules.

If you have any questions about the applicability of any formal opinion to an issue you are addressing, please feel free to contact Joe Pirtle, Bar Counsel, at (208) 334-4500.

Because of the discontinuance of the Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, the current process to request a formal ethics opinion of the Idaho State Bar is to make that request to the Idaho State Bar Board of Commissioners, c/o of Bar Counsel, P.O. Box 895, Boise, Idaho 83701.  The Idaho State Bar Board of Commissioners, in its discretion, decides whether any particular topic merits a formal ethics opinion, and if it does, will issue a formal ethics opinion.  The general standards that the Idaho State Bar Board of Commissioners generally considers are whether a request for a formal opinion is of general application to the members of the Idaho State Bar, as opposed to responding to a specific, unique set of facts or circumstances and whether the request is of sufficient breadth and interest to the Bar as a whole.  As noted above, very few requests for formal opinions are granted.

Formal Ethics Opinions

19441Candidate for Supreme Court not to express opinion on prior Supreme Court DecisionN/A
19563"Hanging a Shingle" is OKN/A
19574Lawyer w/ second Occupation (Real Estate)See #6, 103, 109
19575Judge as Executor of EstateDisavowed
19576Lawyer as Insurance AdjustorSee #4, 103, 109 and ABA #47
19587Lawyer in Phone BookObsolete
19588Fee Schedules, etc.Obsolete
19589Referral Limitations/Tax Collector-Advisor Conflict of InterestN/A
195810County Attorney not to act as Defense CounselSee #50, 77, 105
195911Dual Capacity/Advertising/Joint AdsSee #103, 109, 4, 6
195912Judicial EducationObsolete
195913OK to file suit even if SOL has RunABA Op. 272
195914Not OK to Lie to ClientN/A
195916Public Attorney Partnership w/ Private AttorneyN/A
195920Judge not to solicit support in campaignN/A
195921Divorce Cases - contingent fees no good (support, etc. - read this)N/A
196026Advertising/ShingleProbably obsolete
1960272nd Lawyer no duty as to 1st lawyer's unpaid fee/local customAlso see #27
196028Prosecutor/Deputy prosecutor-different law firms-conflictsSee #10, 17, 18, 105
196129Firm Name: can't mislead as to who partners are, or wereN/A
196130Divison of Fees, disclosure to client, finder's feeSee #24
196131Prosecutors/private employment/possible conflictsN/A
196132Prosecutor/private case - if same facts - no good. Good overview of this AreaSee ABA Opinion #135
196233Title company/realtor-lawyer as drafter of deeds, etc.Not permitted
196234Conflict of Interest/former client/appearance of improprietyN/A
196235Conflict/dual representation/consent ineffectiveSee #93
196237Collection Agencies/role of credit agency/use of letterheadN/A
196238Judge as AttorneyObsolete
196239Court Reporter - court personnel/opposing counselN/A
196340Bank as Trustee/conflict of interest/solicitation/appearance of improprietyN/A
196341City Attorney as criminal DefenderSuperseded by #105
196442Not Unethical for Lawyers to "Take the 5th"N/A
196443Deputy Prosecutor: same fact situation - conflictSee #18, 32
196444Client belongs to firm, not lawyer re: announcements of leaving, solicitation, encroachmentSee #108
196645Telephone listings in area not served by LawyerSee #63
196847Duty of Diligence-court appointments, duty not to excuseN/A
196948Re: Credit Card Payment of Fees - Adopts ABA #1120Superseded by #70
196949Non-partners in same office-generally shouldn't oppose each otherSee #94
197150Prosecutor/City Attorney as Defender - no good. See "2 Public Employees" NotionSee #105
197151City Attorney's Firm can't Defend CriminalsSuperseded by #105
197152Use of Retired/Deceased Persons on letterheadN/A
197153Prosecutor/Defender Prohibition - possible exceptionAlso see #105
197154Threat of Criminal Prosecution/Civil matter, by Deputy DAN/A
197155OK for Public Defender/Private Criminal attorney to be partners#84 is similar
197256Lawyer as CPASee #103, 109, obsolete
197257Advertising-publication of list of membersObsolete?
197258Initially approached by "A" then represent "B"/share space w/ MD#49, 94
197259Advertising/Public interest firms - obsoleteN/A
197360Representation of county and city in same county - OKN/A
197361Attorney as Witness-when to withdraw - some changes here?N/A
197362Bidding for public agency legal contract is not permittedSee #99
197363Telephone listing of lawyersSee #45 - mostly obsolete
197364Husband/wife, lawyer/clerk - possible conflictsN/A
197365Withholding services (divorce) until bill paid - improperN/A
197366Unrepresented person - giving forms to sign, giving them advice - OK for receipt of service of processN/A
197367Propriety of acting as attorney for Group (student groups, etc.)N/A
197368Letterhead - inactive members in govt. serviceSee #16, 52, 109
197369Conflict and Remedies - member of public body and clients before itN/A
197370Credit Card Payment OK, no "discounts" or "Specials"Overrules #48
197472Lawyer advertising in "Job Wanted" contextObsolete
197473Advertising - New AssociateObsolete
197474Prosecutor not to challenge constitutionality of statute-conflictSee #91
197475Confidentiality - both parties, husband & wife, dead, contract to will - charitable beneficiaryN/A
197476Public Defender, paid by county, opposing county - OK. County not real clientN/A
197477Part-time Juvenile Prosecutor - still conflicts w/ criminal defense workSee #10, 53
197478Obligation to undertake indigent representationN/A
197479Broad discussion of "moral" charge lawyers - also husband/wife representationN/A
197480Conflict: Lawyer is adversary and on Disciplinary Board v. same lawyerN/A
197481No Conflict AG employee as hearing officer and drafterPage missing
197482Judge owning property with former partnersN/A
197483Lawyer as witness should avoid all legal work on client's caseSee #15, 61
197484OK for public defender's partners to do private criminal defenseSee #55, 100
197585Public attorneys - criminal defenseSuperseded by #105
197586Possible conflicts of agencies (ILAS, etc.) right to withdraw upon discovering indigencyN/A
197587Group legal services - permissible boundariesN/A
197588Dual Professions - CPASee #103, 109
197589Criminal Attorney can post bail for client - (probably)N/A
197590City Attorney as criminal DefenderSuperseded by #105
197591AG Conflict (both sides) conflict generally public can't consentAlso see #74
197592Public Disclosures - Lawyer's Duty to a) not try case in press, and b) encourage client to do sameN/A
197693Non-Opinion on handling both sides in "Friendly" caseAlso see #35
197694Share office space - conflict to handle both sidesSee #49
197695Suing for Attorney's fees/"Attorneys Fees" in those casesN/A
197796Attorney-Client Privilege - Fugitive - no reveal to FBIN/A
197797Lawyer as "Answer-Man" in paperPartially obsolete
197798Contributions to Judicial CampaignsN/A
197799Unethical to propose oneself as Public Defender if no prior intention to have such post.See #62
1977100Public Defender - partners to do some criminal work - he does civil - OKSee #55, 84
1981103Dual Professions - financial consultingSee also #11, 88, 109
1981104Unethical to pay a contingent fee to a "Witness Finder"N/A
1981105City Attorney may represent Defendants in certain casesN/A
1981106Unethical to seat imposter at counsel table for mis-identificationN/A
1981107Improper Advertising - fail to clearly identify "AD"N/A
1981108Covenant not to compete - unethical between lawyersSee #44
1981109Dual Professions/Letterhead OK/bad to have non-lawyers on letterheadN/A
1982110Sharing office space not a conflict - but...See #94, 49
1982111Donation of legal services to charitable auction - unethicalN/A
1982112Yellow Pages ListingN/A
1983113Any ethical problems arise when a father and son, who are also attorneys, practice in the same community where one is prosecuting attorney and the other intends to defend criminal casesN/A
1983114Propriety of a lawyer participating in a private attorney referral serviceN/A
1984115Interest on trust accountsN/A
1984116Interest on lawyer trust account (IOLTA)N/A
1986117Propriety of attorney allowing client, a collection agency, to recover and retain attorney fees awarded by courtN/A
1987118Conflict - husband in private practice/wife as law clerkN/A
1987119Office sharing - criminal defense attorney and part-time prosecutorN/A
1988120Lawyer may properly represent client in execution of small claims judgmentN/A
1988121How to handle unclaimed trust fundsN/A
1988122Lawyer may not keep a "pad" in the trust accountN/A
1988123Advertising - should not advertise in city w/ no office, w/out clarificationN/A
1988124Calculation of contingent feesN/A
1988125Application of Opinion #117 to government attorneysN/A
1988126Advertising - firm namesN/A
1989127Solicitation - placing random callsN/A
1989128Use of "Witness Finder"N/A
1989129Small Claims CourtN/A
1989130Recording Telephone CallsN/A
1989131Firm NamesN/A
1989132NSF Checks - prosecutor violating IRPC 4.4?N/A
1990133Prosecutor defending in other jurisdictionsN/A
1992134Direct contact with clientsN/A
1992135Living TrustsN/A
1999136Audit OpinionN/A
Undated Opinion15Lawyer as Prospective WitnessSee DR 5-101, 5-102
Undated Opinion17Judge as ProsecutorSee #23
Undated Opinion18DA as Private Attorney - facts also apply in criminal caseSee #32, 43
Undated Opinion19Criminal Defense - pleas of not guilty, indigent status, payment of court appearance feesN/A
Undated Opinion22Civil Case - contacting officers/directors of corporation - must be through counsel but C.F. employeesN/A
Undated Opinion23Judge Practicing LawObsolete
Undated Opinion24Lawyers refer case, duty to each other, division of feesSee #27
Undated Opinion25Councilman/Lawyer conflict, firm unit ruleN/A
Undated Opinion36Collection Agencies/lawyers/fee arrangementsSee #37
Undated Opinion46Conflict from before one becomes a Lawyer, still conflictAdopts ABA #906
Undated Opinion71No conflict for AG doing paternity and back payment requestsSee #37
Undated Opinion101What to turn over to client re: withdrawal, change of attorneysN/A
Undated Opinion102Fee arrangements - how to compute - construction of fee contractsN/A
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