If you have questions and need advice about things that may be considered ethical gray areas, call the State Bar’s Ethics Helpline – 800-532-3947. The helpline service took more than 4,900 calls in the 2009 fiscal year, which actually seems like a low number to me considering that there are over 80,000 lawyers in Texas. There are two attorneys working the Helpline. They currently take about 200 calls a month, or roughly 10 per day. They cannot and will not talk with anyone but a licensed Texas attorney. Be careful, the attorneys of the Helpline do not represent you and your calls are always recorded. They will require you to provide your name and bar number at the beginning of each call. They are licensed Texas attorneys, subject to the same Rules of unprofessional conduct as we all are. Therefore, you should know that the helpline attorneys have a mandatory duty to report certain offenses when they learn of them, as we are all required to do. So, you may not want to confess any wrongful conduct to the Helpline attorneys. That is not their intended purpose.
Here are a few topics that may merit a call to the helpline for clarity: conflicts, confidentiality, communication with represented persons, fee-splitting, advertising, safekeeping property, termination of representation and duty to report misconduct.