Professional Responsibility and Conduct

This committee addresses matters involving professional ethics and helps educate and provide guidance to the membership about their ethical duties.

The majority of the committee's work consists of:

  • drafting advisory opinions on issues of professional ethics based on questions submitted to the committee or developed by the committee on its own initiative;
  • studying and recommending changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct;
  • conducting special studies and providing advice to the Board of Trustees on professional responsibility;
  • sponsors educational and outreach programs, including an annual ethics symposium.

The committee currently is composed of 14 lawyer members and two public members.

In evaluating potential members, the committee uses the following criteria, though no one factor is dispositive:

  • prior experience in the legal ethics field;
  • time and energy to undertake the significant responsibilities of committee membership;
  • writing and verbal skills;
  • factors lending diversity to the committee, including diversity based on race, sex, color, national origin and sexual orientation, as well as location and field of practice, years in practice (including status as a California Young Lawyer), and size of firm (if applicable);
  • prior volunteer experience, particularly involvement in legal and other professional groups.

For public members, the committee values the ability to contribute a client perspective to the committee's deliberations. In addition to completing an application form, successful applicants may be required to participate in a personal interview, typically held in April or May. Committee meetings generally are held on Fridays, alternating between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

  • Expected 2017-18 vacancies:  5 (lawyer and public member positions)
  • Meetings per year: 8-9 
  • 2016-17 Chair: Suzanne Burke Spencer, Laguna Beach 
  • Staff contact: Lauren McCurdy 415-538-2107

Deadline for 2017 applications: January 27, 2017

2017-18 terms begin: Conclusion of 2017 State Bar Annual Meeting (August 27, 2017)