The practice of law in the State of Utah is regulated by the Utah Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has delegated to the Office of Professional Conduct (“OPC”) the responsibility of investigating allegations that an attorney has violated the Rules of Professional Conduct and of prosecuting those allegations in accordance with the Rules of Lawyer Discipline and Disability.
The purpose of the lawyer disciplinary process is to ensure and maintain the high standards of professional conduct required of those who undertake the discharge of professional responsibilities as lawyers. The process is designed to protect the public and the administration of justice from lawyers who have demonstrated by their conduct that they are unable or likely to be unable to discharge properly their professional responsibilities. Rules of the Utah Supreme Court provide that, prior to the OPC filing a formal complaint in district court or the issuance of a public reprimand, discipline proceedings are confidential.
While the OPC is charged with investigating and prosecuting attorney misconduct, our office does not make the ultimate determination as to whether rules have been violated and we do not impose discipline against attorneys. This is done by the District Courts and the Ethics and Discipline Committee under the supervision of the Utah Supreme Court. A more detailed description of the process can be found here.
In addition to our prosecutorial role, the OPC is also responsible for providing informal guidance to members of the bar concerning professional conduct. We do this by providing an Ethics Hotline, which allows attorneys to call our office with questions about how their conduct may comport with the rules, and by offering a semi-annual Ethics School which covers some of the most common ethical concerns faced by attorneys. Our staff attorneys are also available to speak at seminars and CLE events on issues that may be of interest to a particular group.