Washington Law Review

Comment

Drafting Agreements as an Attorney-Mediator: Revisiting Washington State Bar Association Advisory Opinion 2223

October 01, 2014 | 89 Wash. L. Rev. 1035

Abstract:  This Comment argues that Washington State Bar Association Advisory Opinion 2223 (WSBA Advisory Opinion 2223) should be revisited. WSBA Advisory Opinion 2223 reaches the unqualified conclusion that an attorney-mediator violates the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) when drafting legal documents such as Property Settlement Agreements, Orders of Child Support, or Parenting Plans for unrepresented parties. WSBA Advisory Opinion 2223 creates confusion because it contains two significant flaws: (1) an omission of relevant comments to the RPC, and (2) an inconsistent reliance on extra-jurisdictional authority. Given WSBA Advisory Opinion 2223’s practical ramifications, the opinion should be reconsidered. Reexamining this opinion should include a thorough discussion of all applicable RPC comments and an analysis of guidance from other jurisdictions that have faced the same question. These considerations may lead to a conclusion different from the one reached in WSBA Advisory Opinion 2223. Yet because Washington attorneys turn to WSBA advisory opinions for guidance concerning their ethical obligations, it is particularly important that WSBA Advisory Opinion 2223 be accurate, comprehensive, and clear.

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