Bar Rules

Internal Rules - Formal Advisory Opinion Board

Ethics & Discipline / Advisory Opinions / Internal Rules - Formal Advisory Opinion Board

FORMAL ADVISORY OPINION BOARD INTERNAL OPERATING RULES OF PROCEDURE

Rule 1. Meetings

(a) The Chair or Vice Chair of the Formal Advisory Opinion Board shall determine when and where the meetings of the Board shall occur.
(b) All Board business, including voting on opinions, may be conducted by telephone, e-mail, or other electronic communication device.
(c) Board members may attend meetings by telephone or other electronic communication device.

Rule 2. Quorum Requirement

Seven (7) members of the Board shall constitute a quorum.

Rule 2A. Voting Requirements

(a) Regular Business - Subject to sub-paragraph (b) below, a majority of the members of the Board present and voting shall be required to transact the business of the Board.
(b) Publication under Bar Rule 4-403(d) - The affirmative vote of not less than five (5) members of the Board shall be required in order to submit opinions for second publication under Bar Rule 4-403(d).

Rule 3. Preliminary Determination of Whether Opinion Should Be Drafted

When the Office of the General Counsel receives a request for a Formal Advisory Opinion, the request shall be forwarded to each member of the Board and placed on the agenda of the next meeting of the Board for preliminary determination of whether a proposed Formal Advisory Opinion should be drafted.

Rule 4. Assignment of Research and Drafting to Board Members

The Chair of the Board shall have complete discretion in assigning requests for Formal Advisory Opinions to members of the Board for researching and drafting proposed opinions. The Office of the General Counsel of the State Bar of Georgia will provide staff assistance in researching and drafting opinions upon request by the Board members assigned to draft a proposed opinion.

Rule 5. Comments

(a) Any comment to a proposed Formal Advisory Opinion filed pursuant to Rule 4-403(c) shall be filed with the Board through the Office of the General Counsel within thirty (30) days of the date that the proposed Formal Advisory Opinion is published in an official publication of the State Bar of Georgia.
(b) There shall be filed a minimum number of one copy of any comment pursuant to Rule 4-403(c) in order for the comment to be considered by the Board.
(c) A copy of the petition for discretionary review filed with the Supreme Court of Georgia pursuant to Rule 4-403(d) must be simultaneously served upon the Board through the Office of the General Counsel.
(d) Any comment submitted to the Board pursuant to Rule 4-403(c) is for the Board's internal use in assessing proposed opinions and shall not be released unless the comment has been submitted to the Supreme Court of Georgia in compliance with Bar Rule 4-403(d).

Rule 6. Operating Guidelines

(a) Upon receipt of a request for a Formal Advisory Opinion, the Office of the General Counsel will assign a file number to the request.
(b) The Office of the General Counsel will transmit the request to the Board.
(c) The request will be placed on the agenda of the next Board meeting. The Board should make a determination at the meeting as to whether a formal opinion will be drafted.
(d) At the same meeting, or immediately thereafter, the Board will assign the request to a Board member for the drafting of a proposed opinion.
(e) The draft opinion should be prepared and transmitted by the drafter to the members of the Board at least one week prior to the next scheduled meeting of the Board. Address labels will be supplied by the Office of the General Counsel for this purpose.
(f) At the option of the drafter, the draft opinion will be distributed by the Office of the General Counsel at least ten (10) days prior to the next scheduled meeting of the Board.
(g) At the meeting, the Board will adopt, reject, or revise the opinion.
(h) Upon adoption, the opinion will be edited for style and published for comment as provided in Bar Rule 4-403(c).
(i) As long as the Board complies with Bar Rules, it may take any action it deems necessary to insure that the opinions continue to provide an accurate interpretation of the Bar's ethical rules.

Rule 7. Confidentiality

(a) The name of the lawyer making the request will be held confidential unless the lawyer otherwise elects as provided in Bar Rule 4-403(g).
(b) The name of the Board member who has been assigned to draft a proposed opinion will be held confidential unless the Board otherwise elects by majority vote.
(c) All inquiries regarding Formal Advisory Opinions being considered by the Board should be forwarded to the Chair or Vice Chair.

Rule 8. E-Mail Voting Procedure

It is best that the Board meets and holds live discussions as often as possible. However, the Board, in its discretion, may discuss and vote on matters regarding formal advisory opinions by e-mail, rather than at a meeting of the Board. Matters shall be provided to each member of the Board by e-mail, along with a message directing the Board to participate in a discussion by e-mail. The Board Chair determines when the discussion period will end and call for a vote on the matter. At any time, however, any Board member has "veto power," which allows him or her to call for a "live discussion."

Rule 9. Presentations to the Board

Presentations to the Board shall be in writing unless oral presentation is permitted in specific cases by the Board.

Rule 10. Attendance at Board Meetings

Only Board members and Office of the General Counsel staff shall be permitted to attend a Formal Advisory Opinion Board meeting during the deliberations of the Board.

Rule 11. Contact with the Press

Board members may be contacted by members of the press regarding opinions and other Board matters. If contacted, Board members must refrain from communicating with the press and immediately contact the Director of the State Bar's Communications Department at 404-527-8791. In compliance with State Bar policy, all inquiries from the press go through the Communications Department to be routed to the appropriate person.



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