Bar Rules

Rule 4-403. Formal Advisory Opinions

Ethics & Discipline / Current Rules / Part IV (After January 1 / 2001) - Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct (also includes Disciplinary Proceedings and Advisory Opinion rules) / CHAPTER 4 ADVISORY OPINIONS

(a) The Formal Advisory Opinion Board shall be authorized to draft Proposed Formal Advisory Opinions concerning a proper interpretation of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct or any of the grounds for disciplinary action as applied to a given state of facts. The Proposed Formal Advisory Opinion should address prospective conduct and may respond to a request for a review of an Informal Advisory Opinion or respond to a direct request for a Formal Advisory Opinion.

(b) When a Formal Advisory Opinion is requested, the Formal Advisory Opinion Board should review the request and make a preliminary determination whether a Proposed Formal Advisory Opinion should be drafted. Factors to be considered by the Formal Advisory Opinion Board include whether the issue is of general interest to the members of the State Bar of Georgia, whether a genuine ethical issue is presented, the existence of opinions on the subject from other jurisdictions, and the nature of the prospective conduct.

(c) When the Formal Advisory Opinion Board makes a preliminary determination that a Proposed Formal Advisory Opinion should be drafted, it shall publish the Proposed Formal Advisory Opinion either in an official publication of the State Bar of Georgia or on the website of the State Bar Georgia, and solicit comments from the members of the State Bar of Georgia. If the proposed Formal Advisory Opinion is published on the State Bar of Georgia website only,  the State Bar of Georgia will send advance notification by e-mail to the entire membership that have provided the State Bar of Georgia with an e-mail address, that the proposed opinion will be published on the State Bar of Georgia website. Following a reasonable period of time for receipt of comments from the members of the State Bar of Georgia, the Formal Advisory Opinion Board shall then make a final determination to either file the Proposed Formal Advisory Opinion as drafted or modified, or reconsider its decision and decline to draft and file the Proposed Formal Advisory Opinion.

(d) After the Formal Advisory Opinion Board makes a final determination that the Proposed Formal Advisory Opinion should be drafted and filed, the Formal Advisory Opinion shall then be filed with the Supreme Court of Georgia and republished either in an official publication of the State Bar of Georgia or on the website of the State Bar of Georgia. If the proposed Formal Advisory Opinion is to be republished on the State Bar of Georgia website only, the State Bar of Georgia will send advance notificaiton by e-mail to the entire membership that have provided the State Bar of Georgia with an e-mail address, that the proposed opinion will be republished on the State Bar of Georgia website. Unless the Supreme Court of Georgia grants review as provided hereinafter, the opinion shall be binding only on the State Bar of Georgia and the person who requested the opinion, and not on the Supreme Court of Georgia, which shall treat the opinion as persuasive authority only. Within 20 days of the filing of the Formal Advisory Opinion or the date the official publication is mailed to the members of the State Bar of Georgia (if the opinion is published in an official publication of the State Bar of Georgia), or first appears on the website of the State Bar of Georgia (if the opinion is published on the website), whichever is later, the State Bar of Georgia or the person who requested the opinion may file a petition for discretionary review thereof with the Supreme Court of Georgia. The petition shall designate the Formal Advisory Opinion sought to be reviewed and shall concisely state the manner in which the petitioner is aggrieved. If the Supreme Court of Georgia grants the petition for discretionary review or decides to review the opinion on its own motion, the record shall consist of the comments received by the Formal Advisory Opinion Board from members of the State Bar of Georgia. The State Bar of Georgia and the person requesting the opinion shall follow the briefing schedule set forth in Supreme Court of Georgia Rule 10, counting from the date of the order granting review. The final determination may be either by written opinion or by order of the Supreme Court of Georgia and shall state whether the Formal Advisory Opinion is approved, modified or disapproved, or shall provide for such other final disposition as is appropriate.

(e) If the Supreme Court of Georgia declines to review the Formal Advisory Opinion, it shall be binding only on the State Bar of Georgia and the person who requested the opinion, and not on the Supreme Court of Georgia, which shall treat the opinion as persuasive authority only. If the Supreme Court of Georgia grants review and disapproves the opinion, it shall have absolutely no effect and shall not constitute either persuasive or binding authority. If the Supreme Court of Georgia approves or modifies the opinion, it shall be binding on all members of the State Bar of Georgia and shall be published in the official Georgia Reports. The Supreme Court of Georgia shall accord such approved or modified opinion the same precedential authority given to the regularly published judicial opinions of the Court.

(f) The Formal Advisory Opinion Board may call upon the Office of the General Counsel for staff support in researching and drafting Proposed Formal Advisory Opinions.

(g) The name of a lawyer requesting an Informal Advisory Opinion or Formal Advisory Opinion will be held confidential unless the lawyer elects otherwise.



GO TO Rule 4-402. The Formal Advisory Opinion Board
GO TO Rule 4-404. Immunity
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