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Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Research: State Rules and Resources

Guide to sources on how to conduct legal research in legal ethics and professional responsibility, including New York.

State bar association websites can be a good resources when researching professional responsibilities issues in a particular jurisdiction, but you may end up doing research on Lexis or Westlaw, especially if you are looking for a jurisdiction-specific treatise, bar journal article, or if you need to search for ethics opinions, but don't already have a citation to a specific opinion.

  • Identify your issues first and then identify the relevant constitutions, statutes, regulations, court rules, ethics rules, case law, ethics opinions, and secondary sources.
  • State, city and county bar journals contain articles that are written by practicing attorneys in that state. These bar journals can be a particularly rich source of articles on the legal ethics rules which are specific to that jurisdiction. Note that not all jurisdictions will have a bar journal. You can find  federal, state, city, and county bar journals on Lexis and Westlaw from the 1990s - current. For historical coverage starting with v. 1, use HeinOnline.
  • State bar association websites are a good place to go to see what ethics rules have been recently amended or are under consideration to be amended. 

Cases: Search state case law databases for ethics cases that have been adjudicated in state courts. 

Statutes: Search relevant statutes and court rules for the legal issues you are researching in your jurisdiction.  Some annotated state statutes will include ethics opinions in the case annotations. 

Bar Journals: State, city and county bar journals contain articles that are written by practicing attorneys in that state. These bar journals can be a particularly rich source of articles on the legal ethics rules which are specific to that jurisdiction. Note that not all jurisdictions will have a bar journal. You can find  federal, state, city, and county bar journals on Lexis and Westlaw from the 1990s - current.

  • On Lexis and Westlaw, bar journals are searchable under the broader category of law reviews and journals
  • On Lexis and Westlaw you can also identify a state, narrow by secondary sources, narrow by publication type = law reviews and journals, and then identify and search in bar journals published by bar associations in that state.
  • For historical coverage  of bar journals starting with v. 1 use HeinOnline.

 

State Ethics Opinions: Remember that State Ethics Opinions are advisory, but not binding. Lexis and Westlaw do not carry ethics opinions for all jurisdictions - check for coverage: