Rules of Procedure and Scope of Authority
1. The Ethics Advisory Committee shall be composed of active members of the South Carolina Bar. Committee members, including the chair, shall be selected by the President of the Bar.
2. The Committee's purpose is to issue opinions upon receipt of an inquiry from a member of the South Carolina Bar on the ethical propriety of the inquirer's contemplated conduct not relating to a pending matter. The Committee does not approve or disapprove particular advertisements or solicitations of professional employment. The Committee will, in its discretion, consider advertising or solicitation issues of general applicability. To assist the committee in its efforts, all inquirers are requested to use the following format:
a) plain, unmarked paper;
b) fact scenario that does not identify the parties;
c) cite the appropriate Rule(s) of Professional Conduct, and any applicable case or statutory law or other authority; and
d) brief cover letter addressed to Ethics Advisory Committee, South Carolina Bar, Post Office Box 608, Columbia, South Carolina 29202.
3. The chairman or the Bar's staff liaison, shall screen all inquiries, and shall remove any identifying features. An inquirer shall receive one of the following responses:
a) a copy of an existing opinion on point;
b) notice indicating that because the question presented is not prospective, involves conduct of someone other than the inquirer, requires interpretation of substantive law, or seeks approval of a particular advertisement or solicitation of professional employment, the Committee is prohibited from responding;
c) notice that the inquiry is scheduled for Committee consideration and that the inquirer should receive an opinion from the Committee.
In the transmittal of the existing opinion, declination of consideration, or transmittal of new opinion, the inquirer will be informed that a request may be made to the Committee to reconsider its decision. Summaries of new opinions will be printed in the South Carolina Bar News and the opinions will be posted on the Bar's Internet site.
4. Upon determination that an opinion should be drafted, the Chair shall assign the inquiry, exclusive of any identification of the inquirer, to a Committee member. That member will draft an opinion which shall be clearly marked as a draft for discussion purposes only, and submit it to the Bar office prior to the next meeting. At the next meeting, the Committee will discuss the inquiry and render the opinion as drafted or as modified by the Committee, defer it until the next meeting, or decide not to issue the opinion. In any event, the inquirer will be informed of the Committee's decision.
5. South Carolina Appellate Court Rule 407, "Rules of Professional Conduct," is the standard for advisory opinions. Other reference sources may include case law, statutory law, advisory opinions from other jurisdictions, treatises and other authorities.
6. All inquiries are confidential. Only the chair of the Committee or the Bar staff liaison person will know the name of the attorney requesting the opinion.
7. All opinions shall carry a disclaimer substantially similar to the following:
"The Ethics Advisory Committee renders opinions exclusively to members of the South Carolina Bar concerning ethical issues raised by the inquirer's contemplated conduct not relating to a pending matter. This Committee has no disciplinary authority. Lawyer discipline in South Carolina is administered solely by the South Carolina Supreme Court through its Commission on Lawyer Conduct."