The Duty to Report Lawyer Misconduct

I have served on the Colorado Bar Association’s Ethics Committee for nearly 30 years. During most of this time I have been a member of its telephone Hotline group, commonly known as the “Calling Committee” – or as I like to refer to it, “Stump the Ethicist.” The Calling Committee functions as the first, and often the last, interface between the Ethics Committee and members of the Bar who have an ethics question. It is interesting and valuable work; I’ve learned a lot.

Callers generally fall into three broad categories: those suddenly confronted with a serious ethical issue, such as a perjurious client; those seeking a sounding board and validation for a conclusion they have already reached; and those who feel they are being abused by the conduct of another attorney. The first and second types of callers are the raison d’être for the Calling Committee. The third type we have a bylaw to protect us from. Simply stated, this bylaw provides that the Calling Committee will not opine regarding the ethical conduct of anyone other than the caller. The Calling Committee is not a playground monitor, nor do the pro bono services of its members extend to serving as consulting experts in such disputes.

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