Law Firm In-House Ethics Consulting

Overcoming Ethical Challenges While Engaging Internal Ethics Counsel

ABA Formal Opinion 08-453 issued November 25

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Program Materials

This seminar will examine why firms are designating in-house ethics counsel, the role of the ethics counsel and ethical issues that arise from consulting with in-house counsel. The seminar will offer best practices for law firms creating and employing in-house ethics advisors.


Law firms are increasingly appointing in-house legal ethics counsel to help the firm and its attorneys avoid ethical missteps. In November 2008, the American Bar Association issued Formal Opinion 08-453, which addresses the use of in-house ethics consultants within law firms.

The ABA opinion discusses when firms must disclose communications with in-house ethics counsel, issues related to client consent and reporting of misconduct, and whether communications with the consultant are protected by the attorney-client privilege or subject to the fiduciary exception.

Listen as our panel of attorneys with experience advising and representing attorneys on disciplinary matters discusses why firms are designating in-house ethics counsel and the role of the ethics counsel. The panel will explain the ethical issues that arise from consulting with in-house counsel and will offer best practices for law firms employing in-house ethics advisors.



  1. Role of in-house ethics counsel
  2. Consulting with in-house ethics counsel — review of ABA Formal Opinion 08-453
    1. Client notification
    2. Disclosure requirements
    3. Reporting of misconduct
  3. Attorney-client privilege concerns when consulting with in-house ethics counsel
  4. Best practices for law firms to avoid ethics violations


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are the key legal ethics issues that a law firm must consider when appointing an in-firm ethics counsel?
  • How does the ABA opinion address the conflict between the firm ethics counsel's confidentiality obligations and his or her potential responsibility to report lawyer misconduct?
  • Is an attorney-client relationship created between the in-house ethics counsel and another attorney within the firm seeking an ethics consultation?


Andrew I. Dilworth
Andrew I. Dilworth

Cooper White & Cooper

He concentrates in the areas of general business litigation, criminal defense, and professional responsibility. He has...  |  Read More

Mark J. Fucile
Mark J. Fucile

Fucile & Reising

He counsels and trains lawyers, law firms and corporate and governmental legal departments on professional ethics and...  |  Read More

Michael P. Downey
Michael P. Downey
Hinshaw & Culbertson

He advises lawyers on avoiding malpractice claims and disciplinary complaints, firm formation, partner termination,...  |  Read More

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