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Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Research  

This guide furnishes information on how to locate ethics opinions and identifies the most widely-used secondary sources covering legal ethics.
Last Updated: Aug 13, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Finding Practice Guides and Other Sources Print Page

Secondary Sources

The following sources provide overviews of the law of professional responsibility and citations to primary materials, such as major statutes, rules, and cases:

  • Volume 1, labeled "Attorneys," of: Witkin, California Procedure, Call number: KFC 995.W52 1996, Located In: One Copy in Law Reserve & One Copy in Law Stacks. Witkin's California Procedure is on Lexis as the source, Witkin California Procedure (CAL;WITPRO), and on Westlaw as the source, California Procedure (WITPROC).

          Paper Topic Ideas & Recent Ethics Developments


          Browse or search the following sources to get an idea of the most controversial or widely-discussed legal ethics issues:


          California Materials

          State Bar of California offers the Rules of Professional Conduct and related rules and statutes on its website.  You can find additional ethics-related authorities that apply to California Bar members on this page.

          Annotated rules are included in West's and Deering's annotated code sets.

          • West's Annotated California Codes, Call number: KFC 30.5 .W4, Located In: Law Stacks
            The Rules of Professional Conduct are in the "Court Rules - State Bar" volumes, shelved between the Code of Civil Procedure and the Commercial Code.

            West's Annotated California Codes are on Westlaw: California Statutes - Annotated (CA-ST-ANN) 
            To restrict your search to the Rules, add the following to your other search terms: and prelim("rules of professional conduct")

          • Deerings California Codes Annotated, Call number: KFC 30.5 .D4, Located In: Law Stacks.
            The Rules are in the "Rules of Court: State Bar Rules" volume.

            Deerings California Codes Annotated are on Lexis: Deering's California Codes Annotated, Court Rules, and ALS, Comb. (CAL;CACODE)
            To restrict your search to the Rules, add the following to your other search terms: and heading("rules of professional conduct")


          ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct

          The ABA's Center for Professional Responsibility site includes the Model Rules, with comments.  Here are some additional materials that provide helpful information on the ABA Model Rules:


          Finding Books

          To find books on legal ethics, professional conduct, and the regulation of attorneys, try searching by "Subject" in Ignacio, the USF online catalog. Some useful subjects are listed below. For more advice, contact a research librarian or call the research desk at 415-422-6773.


          Finding Law Review Articles

          You can use two of the major legal periodical indexes, Legal Resource Index/LegalTrac and the Index to Legal Periodicals (ILP), to find articles about legal ethics. When you search indexes, you aren't searching the full-text of the article.  Instead, you are searching bibliographic information about the article, such as its title, subject matter, author, and the journal in which it appears.

          LegalTrac is available online as its own separate research system, but you may find it easier to access Legal Resource Index/LegalTrac content on Lexis or Westlaw because the search interface is more familiar to you. The Lexis source is Legal Resource Index (LAWREV;LGLIND). The Westlaw source is Legal Resource Index (LRI).

          Try these subjects as search terms in LegalTrac⁄Legal Resource Index:

          • Ambulance Chasing
          • Attorney and Client
          • Attorneys - Malpractice
          • Attorneys - Moral and Ethical Aspects
          • Barratry
          • Client Security Funds
          • Clients' Funds
          • Confidential Communications - Attorneys
          • Conflict of Interest - Attorneys
          • Judges - Discipline
          • Judicial Corruption
          • Judicial Ethics
          • Legal Ethics
          • Legal Etiquette
          • Maintenance and Champerty
          • Multidisciplinary Law Firms
          • Unauthorized Practice of Law

          Use the following templates for searching Legal Resource Index by subject on Lexis and Westlaw:

          Lexis sample searches:

          term("attorney and client")
          term("confidential communications attorneys")

          These searches may be combined with other key terms or date or geographic restrictions: 

          term("legal ethics") and jurisdiction(california) and date aft 2009
          term("confidential communications attorneys") and email or e-mail

          Westlaw sample searches:

          index("attorney and client")
          index("confidential communications attorneys")

          These searches may be combined with other key terms or date or geographic restrictions: 

          index("legal ethics") and summary(california) and date(after 2009)
          index("confidential communications attorneys") and e-mail

          Index to Legal Periodicals online covers 1908 to the present. To search by subject, enter your terms in the first search textbox, and select "SU Subject Terms" from the adjacent pull-down menu.

          Try these subjects as search terms on Index to Legal Periodicals:

          • Admission to the Bar
          • Attorney Advertising
          • Attorney-Client Privilege
          • Attorneys
          • Attorneys' Fees
          • Champerty and Maintenance
          • Ethics
          • Law Firms
          • Law Office Management
          • Legal Ethics
          • Legal Malpractice
          • Legal Profession
          • Prosecutorial Misconduct
          • Unauthorized Practice of Law

          Research Librarian

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          Amy J. Wright
          School of Law | 2130 Fulton Street | San Francisco, CA 94117-1080 | (415) 422-6307

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