Does the Advisory Committee or Office of Legal Ethics Counsel accept complaints regarding allegations of lawyer or judicial misconduct?
No. The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by lawyers, prosecuting the cases where a lawyer’s misconduct poses a threat to the public or to the integrity of the legal profession, and maintaining current records of disciplinary information for lawyers licensed to practice law in Missouri. The Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline of Judges is responsible for investigating complaints against judges.
How can I find out if a lawyer has a disciplinary record?
Is the Advisory Committee or Office of Legal Ethics Counsel part of The Missouri Bar?
No. The Advisory Committee is appointed by the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.01. The Advisory Committee may provide formal opinions to Missouri lawyers regarding ethical matters. Rule 5.30(a). The Legal Ethics Counsel serves as staff and counsel to the Advisory Committee and provides informal advisory opinions to Missouri lawyers. Rules 5.07(b) and 5.30(c). The Missouri Bar is a separate entity.
Is the Advisory Committee or Office of Legal Ethics Counsel part of the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (OCDC)?
No. They are all part of the Missouri lawyer regulatory system, but the Advisory Committee and Office of Legal Ethics Counsel are separate from OCDC except for administrative purposes. Rule 5.07(b). The Advisory Committee and Office of Legal Ethics Counsel maintain a separate office from the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel.
What is an informal advisory opinion and what does it mean?
An informal advisory opinion is just that – informal and advisory. It is nonbinding and is given for the guidance of the lawyer asking the question. Although informal advisory opinions are nonbinding, OCDC will take an informal advisory opinion into consideration, to the extent it considers appropriate, when it relates to a complaint received on that lawyer. If the facts found by OCDC through investigation vary from the facts upon which the informal advisory opinion was based, it is less likely that OCDC will give much weight to the informal advisory opinion.
What is the difference between an informal advisory opinion and a formal opinion?
Formal opinions are binding in disciplinary proceedings that occur after the formal opinion is issued. Formal opinions are subject to review by the Supreme Court when petitioned by any member of the bar who is substantially and individually aggrieved by the opinion. Burgess v. State, 342 S.W.3d 325, 329 fn 6 (Mo. Banc 2011). No formal opinion has been reviewed by the Supreme Court of Missouri, to date.
How do I request an informal advisory opinion?
A lawyer may call or write the Legal Ethics Counsel to request an informal advisory opinion.
Where can I find informal advisory opinion summaries that have been published?
This office maintains a database of published informal advisory opinion summaries dating back to July 1, 1993.
Where can I find formal opinions?
Formal Opinions issued since 1988 are available on the Supreme Court of Missouri’s website. Formal opinions and informal advisory opinions through June 30, 1994 are included in a deskbook titled Missouri Advisory Opinions published by The Missouri Bar in 1995. A supplement to the deskbook was published in 1996. Opinions included in the deskbook and supplement are indexed by topic and include an annotation to the particular rule(s) involved. The book is no longer being published; however, you may search an electronic version of the deskbook and supplement and formal opinions published since 1996 by on The Missouri Bar website. Copies of the original deskbook may be found at many law libraries throughout the state. Westlaw also includes a number of the more recent formal opinions.
How do I request a formal opinion?
A lawyer requesting a formal opinion should send a letter to the Legal Ethics Counsel for consideration by the Advisory Committee.
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