State Bar Update: Five Ethics Opinions Published For Review; Preamble Amendment Under Subcommittee Study

December 09, 2020   |   Abby Hammond

By Abby Hammond

At its most recent meeting, the State Bar Ethics Committee approved five proposed opinions for review, now published in the winter edition of the State Bar Journal. In addition, the Ethics Committees has agreed to send a proposed amendment to the Preamble regarding discriminatory conduct to a subcommittee for further study. The committee has received comments on the Preamble amendment, which you can review here.

The Ethics Committee and State Bar Councilors welcome any feedback on these five published proposals. All comments received will be submitted to the Ethics Committee for its review at the January 2021 meeting. The deadline to submit comments is Tuesday, Dec. 22, by close of business. Send comments to Please consider including NCAJ on your comment to the State Bar by copying emailing on your email.

You can read and comment here on the proposed FEOs, summarized below.

  • Proposed 2019 FEO 4 – Communication with Judicial Officials
    Proposed opinion discusses the permissibility of various types of communications between lawyers and judges.
  • Proposed 2020 FEO 1 – Responding to Negative Online Reviews
    Proposed opinion rules that a lawyer is not permitted to include confidential information in a response to a client’s negative online review, but is not barred from responding in a professional and restrained manner.
  • Proposed 2020 FEO 2 – Advancing Client Portion of Settlement
    Proposed opinion rules that a lawyer may not advance a client’s portion of settlement proceeds while a matter is pending or litigation is contemplated, but may advance a client’s portion of settlement proceeds under other circumstance if the lawyer complies with Rule 1.8(a).
  • Proposed 2020 FEO 5 – A Lawyer’s Responsibility in Avoiding Fraudulent Attempts to Obtain Entrusted Client Funds
    Proposed opinion discusses a lawyer’s professional responsibility to inform clients about relevant, potential fraudulent attempts to improperly acquire client funds during a real property transaction.
  • Proposed 2020 FEO 6 – Commenting Publicly on Client Information Contained in Public Records
    Proposed opinion rules that a lawyer is prohibited from commenting publicly about information acquired during representation unless the client consents or the disclosure is permitted by Rule 1.6(b).

The proposed amendment to the Preamble identifies the avoidance of discriminatory conduct while employed or engaged in a professional capacity as a fundamental value of the profession. The State Bar received comments both supporting and opposing this proposal.

NCAJ is monitoring the subcommittee studying the Preamble rule change and has an internal working group being led by Legal Affairs Vice President Sonya Pfeiffer and Diversity Officer Stewart Poisson. Other NCAJ members serving on the task force are:

  • Megan Callahan
  • Mike Adkins
  • Meghann Burke
  • Brad Bannon
  • Anabel Rosa
  • Jonathan McGirt
  • Margaret Rowlett
About the Author

Abby Hammond

Advocacy Consultant

Abby Hammond

Advocacy Consultant

Abby Hammond joined the NCAJ team in March of 2018. She brings a wealth of experience interacting with state agencies, legislators and special interest groups in North Carolina. Prior to joining NCAJ, Hammond served in the North Carolina Industrial Commission, where she worked for three chairs of the commission. She also spent four and half years as commission counsel to the Rules Review Commission within the Office of Administrative Hearings. Before coming to North Carolina, Hammond practiced family law in Nashville, Tennessee.

Hammond’s duties at NCAJ include coordinating advocacy efforts with members and contract lobbyists regarding legislation in the N.C. General Assembly. She also assists NCAJ’s Legal Affairs Program in administering reviews of amicus requests and organizing moot court panels and she works with the NCAJ PAC. Hammond serves as staff liaison to NCAJ’s Workers’ Compensation Section and its Legislative and Legal Affairs committees. She is a member of the North Carolina State Bar and a member of the Junior League.

Hammond is a graduate of Clemson University and earned her law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

She loves spending time with family and friends, traveling to new places and Clemson football. Hammond has two children and a wonderful puppy that is the best behaved of the three. Her husband is an economist, and between the two of them, they make dinner conversation for their kids the worst.