Legal Ethics Opinions

Informal Advisory Opinions

Informal advisory opinions are issued by the Legal Ethics Counsel under Rule 5.30. The Legal Ethics Counsel only issues opinions to attorneys for their own guidance involving an existing set of facts. Informal advisory opinions cannot be issued on hypotheticals or regarding the conduct of an attorney other than the one asking for the opinion.

Although an effort has been made to summarize the important facts of the question, not all details are included in each summary. Therefore, these summaries should be used only for general guidance. Only summaries are available; actual copies of the opinion request and answer are not available.

The informal advisory opinions dating back to July 1, 1993, are online. You can search this database by topical index or by search engine. The search engine allows you to search the opinions themselves using keywords or phrases. Or, if you wish, you may designate a specific opinion number. Prior to the year 2000, the first two digits of the opinion number indicated the year. Since then, the first four digits indicate the year.

Researching Existing Informal Opinions

The formal and informal opinions through June 30, 1994, are included in Missouri Advisory Opinions published by The Missouri Bar in 1995. Opinions included in the deskbook are indexed by topic and include an annotation to the particular rule(s) involved. A supplement containing informal opinions published from July 1, 1994, through December 31, 1995, was released in 1996.

Informal advisory opinions dating back to July 1, 1993, are online. Because only summaries are published and informal advisory opinions are not binding, informal advisory opinions are not usually formally withdrawn. It is necessary to look to the more recent opinions for the most current general guidance on any given issue. Prior to the year 2000, the first two digits of the opinion number indicated the year. Now, the first four digits indicate the year.

Researching Existing Formal Opinions of the Missouri Supreme Court Advisory Committee

The formal opinions and informal advisory opinions through June 30, 1994, are included in a deskbook entitled 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 in print; however, you may search an electronic version of the deskbook and supplement and formal opinions published since 1996 by clicking here. Copies of the original deskbook may also be found at many law libraries throughout the state.

Requesting a Formal Opinion of the Missouri Supreme Court Advisory Committee

A request for a formal opinion is the appropriate way to address a matter of general importance, not necessarily related to a specific fact situation. The Advisory Committee may issue formal opinions under Supreme Court Rules 5.30(a). Requests for formal opinions should be addressed to the chair of the Missouri Supreme Court Advisory Committee located at 3335 American Avenue, Jefferson City, MO 65109. The process for issuance of a Formal Opinion can take more than a year.

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