The Ethics Helpline is a resource for lawyers only. All ethics advice is non-binding and intended only to be informational. However, reliance on telephonic ethics advice may be considered as a mitigating factor in a disciplinary proceeding.
Ethics Counsel advises only on the inquiring lawyer’s own prospective conduct. Inquiries are confidential unless the inquiring lawyer requests disclosure or a court orders disclosure. The Ethics Helpline does not address professionalism matters, legal issues, or past conduct, nor does it provide an opinion or advice about the conduct of anyone other than the inquiring lawyer. Ethics Counsel does not provide advice via email and cannot convey advice through a paralegal or other assistant.
If you are unable to immediately reach Ethics Counsel, please leave a voicemail message with your contact information and a brief summary of your question. Voicemails are returned in the order of receipt, and will be returned at the earliest opportunity. While you can expect a return call within two business days, most telephone inquiries receive a response the same or following business day.
Ethics Helpline Contact Information
- Who answers the Ethics Helpline calls?
Ethics Counsel or a paralegal/investigator answers Ethics Helpline calls. If the Ethics Counsel is not immediately available the paralegal/investigator will provide the caller’s inquiry to Ethics Counsel. Ethics Counsel will call the inquiring attorney within one to two business days, excluding holidays. If your matter is time sensitive, Ethics Counsel will prioritize your call, but cannot guarantee an exact callback time.
- May I make an anonymous request for advice from the Ethics Helpline?
No. Inquiring attorneys are required to disclose name and bar number when calling the Helpline.
- Are calls to the Ethics Helpline confidential?
Yes. Ethics Counsel will not disclose any information relating to Ethics Helpline calls to anyone outside the Ethics Division unless (a) the inquiring attorney requests disclosure, (b) a court orders disclosure, or (c) the inquiring attorney discloses that he or she relied on advice from the Ethics Helpline in response to a disciplinary matter.
- Will the Ethics Division keep a record of my call?
Yes. Ethics Counsel will create a detailed log of the call, including date and time of the call, a summary of the caller’s question, and the advice provided. These records are maintained confidentially within the Ethics Division and cannot be accessed by other departments within the State Bar of Alabama.
- Does the Ethics Helpline issue binding opinions?
No. The opinions and advice of Ethics Counsel are provided for the inquiring attorney’s information only.
- Can I use my reliance on Ethics Helpline advice as a defense to a Bar charge?
No, but an attorney may use calls to the Ethics Helpline and reliance on Ethics Helpline advice as mitigating evidence during a disciplinary investigation.
- Can the Ethics Helpline provide a written opinion?
No. The Ethics Helpline provides telephonic advice only. The Ethics Helpline does not provide informal written opinions or advice via email.