The Legal Ethics Counsel Office (LEC) Is Still Available to Assist Lawyers During COVID-19 Pandemic
Informal Advisory Opinions still available: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legal Ethics Counsel (LEC) office is working remotely, but staff lawyers remain available to assist Missouri lawyers with ethics questions through informal advisory opinions. Whether lawyers have ethics questions about serving clients in these difficult times, handling law practices remotely, or other questions, Missouri lawyers may contact the LEC office at 573-638-2263, leave a message, and the call will be returned. Additional information about requesting an informal advisory opinion is available at: http://molegalethics.org/for-lawyers/requesting-an-informal-advisory-opinion/.
Missouri lawyers also should view the LEC Resource Page “Ethical Considerations for Missouri Lawyers Regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The Supreme Court appoints the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee consists of no fewer than six lawyers and two nonlawyers. Terms are four years. Members of the Advisory Committee serve without compensation, but are reimbursed for expenses.
In order to protect the public from persons unqualified or unauthorized to practice law, the Missouri Supreme Court has established an attorney disciplinary system. The Chief Disciplinary Counsel and the Regional Disciplinary Committees investigate complaints of professional misconduct. An attorney accused of professional misconduct may request a hearing to be held before a Disciplinary Hearing Panel selected by the Advisory Committee from a pool of disciplinary hearing officers appointed by the Supreme Court. The panel is made up of two lawyers and one lay person. If the Disciplinary Hearing Panel finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the lawyer is guilty of misconduct, it makes findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations for discipline, which are then filed in the Supreme Court. It is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to impose any discipline found to be warranted.
The Advisory Committee may give formal opinions and the Legal Ethics Counsel may give nonbinding informal advisory opinions, interpreting Supreme Court Rules 4, 5 and 6, to members of the Bar. The Advisory Committee also reviews complaint files that have been closed after investigation, at the request of the complainant. The Legal Ethics Counsel serves as counsel and staff for the Advisory Committee.
The Advisory Committee may waive penalties and past due enrollment fees upon proof satisfactory to it that any delinquency was caused by reason of physical or mental incapacity to engage in the practice of law. Rule 6.01(h).
Members of the Advisory Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court, are: Dorothy White-Coleman, Chair, St. Louis; Susan Appelquist, Vice-Chair, Mount Vernon; David W. Ansley, Springfield; Richard E. Banks, St. Louis; Sheryl Butler, St. Louis; Edward C. Clausen, Jefferson City; Keith A. Cutler, Kansas City; Dale Siebeneck, Jefferson City; Jill A. Kanatzar, Kansas City; Elizabeth D. McCarter, St. Louis; Kirby Upjohn, Kansas City; Branson L. Wood III, Hannibal; and The Legal Ethics Counsel is Melinda J. Bentley.