Legal Ethics Research Guide

 ***THIS is an ARCHIVED guide. It may contain BROKEN links. Its value is HISTORICAL only.***

Current Research Guides 

Hyla Bondareff, Research Services Librarian and Lecturer in Law, Washington University School of Law Library, Room 455H, 935-6434, bondareh@wulaw.wustl.edu, Spring, 1999 (Updated October 2001, September 2002)

Table of Contents 

Introduction
Getting Your Bearings
Statutes
Cases
Looseleaf Treatises
Ethics Opinions
Articles
Books: Search Online Catalogs
Ethics Web Sites
Other Print Sources
Finishing Touches
Historical Research 

Introduction 

In researching your legal ethics problem, you will need to use various kinds of sources. Some you will be familiar with from other research you have done and others will be specific to the ethics field. This guide will help you organize your research and more easily locate sources. Please do not hesitate to ask for my help or help from any of the Reference Librarians.

Technical Note: Some of the links in this research guide will only be active when launched from a computer within the Washington University School of Law.

Getting Your Bearings 

To find a topic or to gain a better understanding of the topic you have chosen, a good source to start with is a hornbook:

  • Wolfram, Charles W., Modern Legal Ethics [Reserve KF 306 W59 1986].
    This is the West's Practitioner's edition hornbook (the brown one).
  • Wolfram, Charles W., Modern Legal Ethics [Reserve KF 306 W59 1986b].
    This is West's Student edition hornbook (the green one -- abridged from the Practitioner's edition).

Statutes 

As with other legal research, statutory law will be primary legal authority and you will need to find all applicable statutes. ABA model rules and codes are reprinted in the following sources:

  • ABA/BNA Lawyer's Manual on Professional Conduct [Reserve KF 305 .A8 A17 1984].
  • American Bar Association, Model Rules of Professional Conduct [Reserve KF 305 .A2]
  • ABA, Annotated Model Rules of Professional Conduct [Reserve KF 305.A26 1999]. On Westlaw.
  • ABA, ABA Compendium of Professional Responsibility Rules and Standards, 2001 ed. [LC KF 305 .A2 2001]

Selected state and local rules may be found in the following:

  • National Reporter on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility: State and Local Bar Associations: Codes of Conduct and Disciplinary Rules [KF 308 .A6 N37]
    Probably the most complete source of all states' rules. See the current year volumes.
  • State Statutes on the 1st floor of the library. Statutes published by West will contain a separate rules volume.
  • Legalethics.com has links to selected state ethics rules
  • American Legal Ethics Library (http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/listing.html) from Cornell University's Legal Information Institute. Makes available state professional rules and commentary; disciplinary procedures; ethics opinions; bar admission; judicial conduct; and other ethics information.
  • Westlaw (from the Directory, click on "Topical Materials by Area of Practice" then "Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility," and then "State Rules of Professional Conduct" ).

Cases 

As with any legal research, you will need to find whatever applicable caselaw that exists. You will want to use the traditional digests (try attorney & client). Also look for citations in the looseleaf sources discussed below, in law review articles, and on-line. Both Westlaw (from the Directory, click on "Topical Materials by Area of Practice" then "Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility") and Lexis (from Sources click on "Area of Law - By Topic" then "Ethics" then "Cases") have specialized ethics databases/libraries for searching just ethics cases.

Looseleaf Treatises 

Secondary sources will be very important to your research. Looseleaf services are often especially helpful because they are up-to-date and provide insight into rules, issues and citations. The following are two of the better services:

  • ABA/BNA Lawyer's Manual on Professional Conduct [Reserve KF 305 .A8 A17 1984].
    A very comprehensive research tool. Contains full text of model codes and rules; ABA ethics opinions; digests of state and local ethics opinions; topical discussion with many citations and including state variations; bibliographies; and comprehensive indexing. The Current Reports volume is updated biweekly and includes news articles and recent opinions.
  • Hazard, Geoffrey C. and W. William Hodes, The Law of Lawyering: A Handbook on the Model Rules of Professional Conduct [KF 306 .H385 1990].
    Two volume set arranged by model rule number with discussion of rules and examples of applicability. Includes some citations. Also includes model rules.

Ethics Opinions 

ABA and state ethics opinions are not binding on courts but can be very helpful and important for providing guidance on rules and codes. You will also find that depending on the jurisdiction they have a varying degree of legal authority.

ABA Opinions 

ABA opinions are available on Lexis (from Sources click on "Area of Law - By Topic" then "Ethics" then "Administrative Materials & Regulations" then "Legal Ethics Opinions" then "ABA Formal Ethics Opinions" OR "ABA Informal Ethics Opinions") and Westlaw (Database: Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility - American Bar Association Ethics Opinions (ABA-ETHOP)).   Summaries of recent ABA Formal opinions are available from the ABA's Center for Professional Responsibility website.

They are available in print in the following sources on Reserve:
 

  • ABA and Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinions of the Committee on Professional Ethics : with the Canons of Professional Ethics, Annotated, and Canons of Judicial Ethics, Annotated. [Spine title: Opinions on Professional Ethics] [Reserve KF 305 .A2 1967]. Contains Formal Opinions 1 - 315 (1924 - 1965) and a code with annotations to formal and informal opinions.
  • ABA and Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Informal Ethics Opinions [Reserve KF 305 .A2 1975 v.1 & v.2]. 2 Volume set containing Informal Opinions C230(a) to 1284 (1961 - 1973) and an index to Formal opinions l-333 and all known Informal opinions through 1284.
  • ABA and Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Formal and Informal Ethics Opinions [Reserve KF 305 .A2 1985 v.1]. Contains Formal Opinions 316 - 348 (1967 - 1982) and Informal Opinions 1285 - 1495 (1974 - 1982).
  • ABA and Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Recent Ethics Opinions [Reserve KF 305 .A2 1973]. Contains Formal Opinions 349 - current (1983 - current) and Informal Opinions 1496 - 1530 (1983 - 1989).

State and Local ethics opinions are available via the following:

  • Legalethics.com website.
  • On Lexis (from Sources click on "Area of Law - By Topic" then "Ethics" then " Administrative Materials and Regulations") and Westlaw (starting in the Directory, click on "Topical Materials by Area of Practice", then "Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility" and then on "Ethics Opinions."
  • They are also in print in National Reporter on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility: State and Local Bar Associations: Codes of Conduct and Disciplinary Rules [KF 308 .A6 N37].
    The current year binders contain each state and bar associations rules or code and current year's ethics opinion. Previous years' opinions are shelved in accompanying transfer binder.  Also available on Lexis.

Digests 

Maru, Olavi, Digest of Bar Association Ethics Opinions
ABA formal opinions and state and local ethics opinions are digested in this 4 volume set. Each volume includes an index and table of modified and overruled opinions, as well as all opinions of a jurisdiction not available in previous years. The 1982 volume contains a cumulative index.
[Reserve KF 305 .A2 1970]
[Reserve KF 305 .A2 1970 Supp. 1970 (1966 to 1970)]
[Reserve KF 305 .A2 1970 Suppl. 1975 (1971 to 1975)]
[Reserve KF 305 .A2 1982 (1976 to 1980)]

Articles 

Law Sources
Several options exist for locating law review articles. You may search LegalTrac or Index to Legal Periodicals (both available from the Law Library's homepage). If you are doing comparative law research, try using the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals.
Current (unbound) journals owned by the Law Library are kept on Reserve. Bound periodicals are shelved alphabetically on the 5th floor.
 

 

Sample LegalTrac Subject Headings
Ambulance Chasing Attorney and Client
Attorneys Barratry
Confidential Communications Conflict of Interests (Attorneys)
Judicial Ethics Legal Etiquette
Legal Ethics Maintenance and Champerty
Multidisciplinary Law Firms Unauthorized Practice of Law

If you are looking for articles published prior to 1980, you will need to use the paper edition of Index to Legal Periodicals (Reading Room KF9 .N32).

You may also search the same indexes on Westlaw Legal Resource Index (LRI) or Index to Legal Periodicals (ILP); or on Lexis in the "Legal Resource Index" database or the "Index to Legal Periodicals" database. Articles contained in journals not available on the WU Hilltop campus may be available via Interlibrary Loan.

Specific journals which may be of interest follow. [Current (unbound) journals owned by the Law Library are kept on Reserve. Bound periodicals are shelved alphabetically on the 5th floor. See above Articles section for finding articles within journals.]

Ethics (An "international journal of social, political and legal philosophy.")
Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics.
Journal of Ethics, Law & Aging (1995 - 1999), Annual Review of Ethics, Law and Aging(forthcoming)
The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics
Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy.
The Professional Lawyer: PL
Social Responsibility, Business, Journalism, Law and Medicine(ceased publication in 1997)

Non-Law Sources
You will also find articles on legal ethics, or ethics in general, in non-law index databases. Look at World Window to see what is available. Some databases which you may want to try are listed below.

  • Business Abstracts (Wilson) (1986 - ) Journal index. More than 300 international English-language business magazines, covering accounting, finance, management, and small business.
  • BusinessFile (InfoTracĀ©) (1985 - ) Full-text. Journal index. Updated monthly; includes over 450 journals full-text.
  • Expanded Academic Index (1980 - ) Full-text. Journal index. Covering all subjects, this database indexes and abstracts 1,896+ journals and general interest magazines, and includes the full text (including images) of 900+ journals and magazines. (will have overlap with LegalTrac)
  • Humanities Abstracts (1984 - ) Journal index. Indexes articles from periodicals in archaeology, art, classics, film, folklore, journalism, linguistics, music, performing arts, philosophy, religion, history, and literature.
  • Philosophers Index (1940 - ) Journal index. Provides indexing and abstracts from books and journals of philosophy and related fields.

You might also try searching news databases on Westlaw or Lexis/Nexis (or the New York Times index and Newspaper Abstracts are available via World Window) for stories on ethical issues.

 

Articles contained in journals or newspapers not available on the WU Hilltop campus may be available via Interlibrary Loan.

Books: Search Online Catalogs 

Use these sources to find books or journal titles. First check the Law Library and WU Hilltop Libraries' catalogs. For more materials, check the Missouri Research Libraries - Mobius. To look for materials available in other libraries, please use WorldCat. To obtain materials not available on campus or via Mobius, you will need to request the item via Interlibrary Loan. Please use the online form at /library/pages.aspx?id=1138). Do not use the link in WorldCat. If you cannot find a book with any of these sources, stop by the Reference Desk or visit one of us in our office.
 

 

Catalog  Web Site Address 
Law Library http://catalog.wustl.edu/search~b1o1c1i1a1/ 
WU Hilltop Libraries http://catalog.wustl.edu/search~/ 
Missouri Research Libraries http://mobius.missouri.edu/ 
WorldCat (over 40 million items) http://firstsearch.oclc.org/FSIP 

 

Sample On-line Catalog Subject Searches
attorney and client confidential communications lawyers
conflict of interests judges united states discipline
judicial ethics lawyers discipline
lawyers malpractice lawyers united states disbarment
lawyers united states discipline legal ethics (especially see legal ethics united states)
practice of law sanctions law united states
unauthorized practice of law
Or try a Key Word Search

Ethics Web Sites 

  • American Legal Ethics Library (http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/), from Cornell University's Legal Information Institute, has links to state annotated model rules and codes, ethics opinions and information.
  • Legalethics.com Has links to state ethics rules and opinions and to other legal ethics sites, organizations and information.
  • Ethics and Professional Responsibility links (http://www.findlaw.com/01topics/14ethics/index.html) from Findlaw.com.
  • Heiros Gamos' Guide to the Practice of Law (http://www.hg.org/practic.html)
  • Institute for Business and Professional Ethics (http://www.depaul.edu/ethics/) from DePaul University. Features an update service in which they will notify you of updates to ethics pages. Has articles on ethics and links to other ethics sites. Not limited to legal ethics.
  • United States Office of Government Ethics (http://www.usoge.gov/). Mission is to prevent and resolve conflicts of interest and to foster high ethical standards for federal employees. Has a What's New section with recent legislation. news and litigation; recent DAEOgrams; links to other federal government departments with ethics departments. Not limited to legal ethics.
  • ABA's Center for Professional Responsibility Ethics Department. (http://www.abanet.org/cpr/links.html) The Center's interest is to study, develop and implement model legal and judicial ethics standards. Has "headnote" summaries of recent ABA ethics opinions, links to state ethics rules and opinions. Also has "ETHICSearch," a research service for addressing ethical dilemmas. Has sample questions and answers.

Other Print Sources 

  • Restatement of the Law Third, The Law Governing Lawyers. See the online catalog or the American Law Institute's web site (http://www.ali.org/ali/LGL.htm) for titles of all drafts. The Proposed Final Draft No. 1, the Proposed Final Draft No. 2, and Tentative Draft No. 8, combined, supersede all previous drafts. [Reserve KF 311 .R49] and [KF 311 .R47]
  • ABA/BNA Lawyer's Manual on Professional Conduct [Reserve KF 305 .A8 A17 1984]
    A very comprehensive research tool. Contains full text of model codes and rules; ABA ethics opinions; digests of state and local ethics opinions; topical discussion with many citations and including state variations; bibliographies; and comprehensive indexing. Current Reports volume is updated biweekly and includes news articles and recent opinions.
  • Coquillette, Daniel R., Lawyers & Fundamental Moral Responsibility. [KF 306 .C66 1995]. Textbook on applied ethical philosophy with excerpts from many scholars.
  • Hazard, Geoffrey C. and Deborah L. Rhode, The Legal Profession: Responsibility and Regulation. [KF 306 .A4 L44 1994]. Student handbook with articles from various scholars in the field.
  • Mallen, Ronald E. and Jeffrey M. Smith, Legal Malpractice [KF 313 .M28 1996]. Three volume treatise on malpractice updated annually.

Bibliographies 

  • ABA, Bibliography of Legal Articles, Textbooks, and Treatises of Professional Responsibility, 1970-1983. [Reserve KF 305.A1 B53]
  • Elliston, Frederick and Jane van Schaick, Legal Ethics: An Annotated Bibliography and Resource Guide. [Reserve KF 305.A1 E43 (1984)]
  • Grant, Todd W., Resources for Research in Legal Ethics. [Reserve KF 306.G73 (1992)]
  • Nagasankara Rao, Dittakavi, Legal Ethics, Professional Responsibility: A Selected Bibliography of Articles. [KF 305.A1 N34 (1985)]

Finishing Touches (or Making Sure You Have Everything) 

You will want to update your research to make sure you are current. You can use the regular Shepards to shepardize your cases. You may also use Westlaw's Keycite. However, to shepardize ABA model rules and codes, ABA opinions and state rules and codes, you will need to use Shepard's Professional and Judicial Conduct Citations [Superceded Area KF 305.A5 S53].

Historical Research 

  • Annotated Code of Professional Responsibility [KF 305 .A2 1979]
  • Legislative History of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct: Their Development in the ABA House of Delegates. [LC & Reserve KF 305 .A32 A16 1987]
  • Thode, E. Wayne, Reporter's Notes to the Code of Judicial Conduct [KF 8779 .Z9 T45]