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ISBA Advisory Opinions on Professional Conduct

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Other Ethics Resources

  • Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.4 Communication
  • Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.14 Client with Diminished Capacity
  • Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.16 Declining or Terminating Representation
  • Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 2.1 Advisor
  • Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 3.3 Candor Toward the Tribunal

More ISBA Ethics Resources

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  • Stephanie E. Greenberg
    The Bottom Line, February 2017

    Follow these rules to save yourself a headache later on.

  • Ten steps for successful conversations with difficult clients
    Ken Stalkfleet
    YLDNews, December 2016

    Difficult clients can pose an especially big challenge for young attorneys. Apply these steps to have more productive conversations with your clients and to improve your overall practice.

  • Dealing with difficult clients: Is it worth it?
    Masah S. Renwick
    Family Law, November 2016

    For those of us to intend to make a career out of representing family law clients, we have got to know how to identify the cases that are the worst of the worst, and learn how to navigate them or avoid them altogether.

  • Beware the pitfall: Avoiding ethical lapses in client intake
    Kyle Stevens
    YLDNews, June 2016
    A discussion of some of the ethical issues regarding client retention and non-engagement letters.
  • How to be a considerate advocate without ever representing a client
    Jennifer A. Haase
    YLDNews, April 2016

    It is never easy to deliver bad news to a client, but what if you must explain the person's case won't move forward before you even form a relationship?

  • Alexandra Martinez
    The Catalyst, March 2016
    It can be very difficult and emotionally draining to truly empathize with a client.
  • 31 ways to dramatically increase trust
    Trey Ryder
    The Bottom Line, December 2015

    Make sure your actions build your credibility, ideally, to the point where your clients trust you without question.

  • Communication etiquette as a young lawyer—Responsiveness
    Vincent A. Oppedisano
    YLDNews, October 2015

    Developing a good sense of how to best reply to different communications will help you in your practice in a number of ways. Here are a few rules and general guidelines that should help.

  • My former client called and wants his file—What do I have to give him?
    Joseph Harvath
    The Bottom Line, September 2015

    The question of whether a client is entitled to receive his or her file relating to the representation by an attorney is a fact specific question, depending on the types of documents sought, whether the attorney has a lien on the property, and whether the attorney should exercise the lien.

  • Client first aid: Look, listen, and feel
    Katherine A. Chamberlain
    YLDNews, October 2013

    The author shares her own system for client intake and management.

  • Riding the DIY Wave
    Maria Kantzavelos
    Illinois Bar Journal, March 2013

    Lawyers should respond to do-it-yourself law sites by serving clients in new ways, an Elmhurst lawyer suggests.

  • Handling Confrontational Clients
    Maria Kantzavelos
    Illinois Bar Journal, December 2012

    Learn techniques to help you manage your relationship with confrontational clients.

  • Compassionate Consultations: Winning Over Prospective Clients
    Larry E. Lauterjung
    Illinois Bar Journal, July 2012

    You usually have an hour to sell yourself to prospective clients during the initial consultation. The key is to communicate your genuine understanding and concern.

  • Managing expectations—Ours (The lawyers) and theirs (The clients)
    Sandra Crawford
    The Catalyst, September 2011

    The book, The New Lawyer, How Settlement is Transforming the Practice of Law, can serve as a starting place for any lawyer wishing to examine where she fits into the conflict resolution continuum.

  • So your client has given you physical evidence of a crime…
    J. Randall Cox
    Traffic Laws & Courts, May 2011

    On the one hand, the delivery to the attorney is a communication which the attorney is required to protect. (Rule 1.6) However, an attorney is not to unlawfully obstruct another party’s access to evidence. (Rule 3.4) How is this conflict resolved? The courts of Illinois do not appear to have directly addressed this.

  • Legal business models: Ethical concerns of adjusting to client demands
    Darrell Dies
    Trusts & Estates, June 2010

    How do the personalities and expectations of a new generation of clients affect a lawyer's practice?

  • Win or lose, the client may not always be right
    William A. Price
    Administrative Law, May 2010

    He may have been a fourth-century Roman historian, but Ammianus Marcellinus' views of lawyers and clients is still relevant today.

  • Problem clients
    Michael J. Meehan
    The Bottom Line, March 2010

    It is easier to decline a problem client than to terminate the attorney-client relationship. By identifying these problem clients at the outset, you can be a happier lawyer and have a more productive practice.

  • Telling a prospective client “I’m just not that into you”
    Helen W. Gunnarsson
    Illinois Bar Journal, October 2009
  • Ryan Bradley
    YLDNews, December 2008

    The practice of law is difficult and challenging even while working with the best clients.

  • You want it when?
    Donald E. Weihl
    The Bottom Line, September 2008

    Specific strategies that will permit breathing room without causing the client to feel the attorney is being unresponsive.

  • Timothy J. Storm
    General Practice, Solo & Small Firm, May 2008

    Communication lies at the heart of much of what attorneys do with, and for, clients.

  • Are You a Client-Savvy Counselor?
    Karen Erger
    Illinois Bar Journal, August 2007

    Sometimes the best client is the one you turn away.

  • Handling High-Maintenance Clients
    Helen W. Gunnarsson
    Illinois Bar Journal, August 2005

    Angry clients, irrational clients, obsessive clients – how do you handle them? ISBA lawyers share their strategies.

  • Bernard Wysocki
    General Practice, Solo & Small Firm, April 2005

    The author describes nine 'red flag' clients-- if you see one coming, run for the hills.

  • Eric M. Rosenberg
    YLDNews, April 2005

    Since its inception, e-mail has been hailed justifiably as a productivity tool. But why should it also be productive for the prosecutor or plaintiff as a source of evidence? What can we do as lawyers to stop the creation and dissemination of troublesome electronic communications?

  • Five ways to make your client feel important
    Trey Ryder
    YLDNews, February 2005

    Often, clients change law firms because of what they perceive to be rudeness or the feeling of indifference by their lawyers.

  • Getting and keeping clients
    John L. Nisivaco
    YLDNews, August 2004

    Most lawyers understand the importance of networking, but they aren't sure how to do it.

  • Making law offices elder-friendly: Advice from the field
    Elder Law, March 2004

    In a recent e-mail exchange, several members of the ABA's Law and Aging Network, including Legal Services Developers and other elder lawyers, offered suggestions to make law offices more accessible and welcoming to older persons.

  • Dealing with emotionally distraught and irate clients
    Jeffrey A. Rouhandeh
    The Bottom Line, January 2004

    The business of law is service-oriented. This means you deal with people on a one-to-one basis just like a retailer or plumber.

  • Handling a client
    Donald C. Schiller
    YLDNews, August 2003

    If a client has confidence and trust in his or her lawyer, he or she will not be difficult for the lawyer to manage.

  • The initial interview and client relations
    James H. Feldman
    YLDNews, April 2003

    The first meeting with the potential client is probably the most important one in the attorney-client relationship and possibly for the case itself.

  • The lawyer as counselor: Do you have the skills to be a truly effective helper?
    Rich Sheehy
    Elder Law, October 2002

    Like doctors, nurses, social workers, and counselors, lawyers are in the business of helping their clients. While this help centers primarily on "legal problems," the desired outcome should be that the client receives the assistance he or she needs--whatever form that assistance might take.


  • Guidance for attorneys in dealing with cybersecurity risks
    Lisa Jungman
    Karen Tobin
    Business and Securities Law Forum, June 2016

    The advances in technology create numerous circumstances in which lawyers, through their own blunders, unwittingly reveal client confidences or violate attorney-client privilege.

  • Client Confidentiality in the Digital Age
    Ed Finkel
    Illinois Bar Journal, May 2015

    The pathways for breaching client confidentiality - whether due to simple carelessness or inadequate security - continue to multiply as technology advances.

  • Confidentiality orders and filing under seal
    Patricia S. Smart
    Federal Civil Practice, December 2012

    The United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Illinois recently revised rules relating to the filing of documents under seal. The District Court for the Northern District also adopted a Model Confidentiality Order earlier this year.

  • Ensuring client confidentiality with best practices
    Vincent Incopero
    The Bottom Line, September 2012

    As a prudent professional, are you aware of your professional and ethical obligations regarding the way that your practice handles personally identifiable information?

  • Silence is the new Golden Rule
    Michael D. Wong
    YLDNews, April 2012

    Under the recent change to Rule 1.6 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, without informed consent an attorney may not disclose ANY information regarding a case or representation, even if that information is of public record. 

  • Information Security for the Solo and Small Firm Attorney
    Adam Nelson
    Benjamin Gerber
    Standing Committee on Legal Technology, June 2007

    It has become increasingly important for practicing attorneys to address information security and privacy requirements in their offices.

  • Practice Update: Who is your client? What document can you disclose
    Bernard Wysocki
    General Practice, Solo & Small Firm, October 2006

    From a practical standpoint, it is important when you see a potential third party involvement, to secure written retainer and defining your representation.

  • Now you don’t see it—Now you do
    Peter Mierzwa
    Standing Committee on Legal Technology, May 2006
    Are you sending documents to opposing counsel or third parties that contain (deleted) privileged client information?
  • Communications and confidentiality issues: A cautionary tale
    The Public Servant, February 2005

    As conversations over mobile communications are often not conducted in private areas, lawyers should refrain from using such forms of communication when discussing confidential client matters, unless they are confident that the general public cannot overhear the conversation