In 1994 the Department recognized the need for a program dedicated to resolving professional responsibility issues faced by Department attorneys and Assistant United States Attorneys. As a result, the Department established the Professional Responsibility Officer Program and the Professional Responsibility Advisory Board. On April 14, 1999, Attorney General Janet Reno officially established the Professional Responsibility Advisory Office (PRAO) as an independent component within the Department of Justice.
PRAO's mission is to provide prompt, consistent advice and training to Department attorneys and Assistant United States Attorneys with respect to professional responsibility issues.
The major functions of PRAO are to:
- Provide definitive advice to Department attorneys and Department leadership on issues relating to professional responsibility.
- Assemble and maintain the Rules of Professional Conduct including, inter alia, all relevant interpretive decisions and bar opinions of the District of Columbia and every state and territory, and other reference materials, and serve as a central repository for briefs and pleadings on professional responsibility issues.
- Coordinate with the litigating components of the Department to defend attorneys in any disciplinary or other hearing against allegations that they failed to meet their professional responsibility obligations.
- Serve as liaison with the state and federal bar associations in matters related to the implementation and interpretation of 28 U.S.C. 530B, the Ethical Standards for Attorneys for the Government Act, and any amendments and revisions to the professional conduct rules.
- Conduct training for Department attorneys to enable them to carry out their duties in conformity with the professional responsibility rules.
- Perform such other duties and assignments as determined from time-to-time by the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General.