Go to the U of M home page.

Researching Legal Ethics

Last update 4/2012. Links verified 4/2012.  Direct feedback on this page to lawlib@umn.edu.


Introduction

 

The rules that regulate lawyers' conduct are generally promulgated by the ABA and then adopted by states.  The earliest standards adopted by the ABA were the Canons of 1908.  In 1969/1970, the ABA adopted the Code of Professional Conduct.  Many states adopted this Code.  Some of these states switched to the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility when the ABA adopted them in 1983; others retained the Code.  Thus, both the Model Rules and the Code of Professional Conduct are still published.  They appear in several sources (see Standards and Opinions, below).  Amendments to the ABA standards are noted in the annual ABA Reports and in the monthly ABA Journal. The ABA's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and its predecessor committees have issued ethics opinions since 1924 (see Standards and Opinions, below)

In Minnesota, the relevant rules are the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (http://www.courts.state.mn.us/lprb/conduct.html).  The body that polices attorneys' conduct is the Minnesota Board of Professional Responsibility  (http://www.mncourts.gov/lprb).  In 1972, the Board began issuing Opinions (http://www.courts.state.mn.us/lprb/opinions.html), described as "guidelines" for Minnesota attorneys.  Failure to comply with the standards set forth in the opinions may subject a lawyer to disciplinary action.

Probably the best source for quick, comprehensive legal ethics information is the ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct. [Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs (1984- ).]  This looseleaf set includes up-to-date ABA standards, and opinions since 1982.  The Reference Manual explains the law of professional responsibility with reference to ethical standards, cases, opinions and law review articles.  Reference Manual binder and Current Reports binder shelved in: RESERVE KF 305 .A8 A2.  Transfer binders (older materials) are shelved at Looseleaf Services KF 305 .A8 A2.  Current Reports since 1998 are also available on LexisNexis, under Ethics--Treatises.  This title is available electronically in Mondale and remotely to law students.

 


Standards & Opinions

 

Standards

ABA Compendium of Professional Responsibility Rules and Standards, 1997- .  Chicago, IL: Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association.  Most current edition is on RESERVE at KF 306 .A733; earlier editions are in the regular stacks at KF 306 .A733.

Annotated Model Rules of Professional Conduct, 5th ed.   Chicago, IL: Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association, c. 2003.  RESERVE KF305   .A2 2003x.

The Model Rules of Professional Conduct (unannotated) are available on the web at http://www.abanet.org/cpr/mrpc/mrpc_toc.html.

The Model Code of Professional Responsibility (unannotated) is available on the web at http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/aba/mcpr/MCPR.HTM.

Professional Responsibility Standards, Rules & Statutes. John Dzienkowski ed.  St. Paul, Minn.: West Pub. Co. (1995- ).  Annual.  Contains ABA codes for lawyers and judges, federal statutes and rules of evidence and procedure that govern attorneys, standards for special practice areas, and a few state rules.  KF 305 .A29 S45.

Model Code of Professional Responsibility and Other Selected Standards including California Rules on Professional Responsibility.  Thomas D. Morgan & Ronald D. Rotunda eds.  Mineola, N.Y.: Foundation Press (1984- ).  Contains the ABA Model Rules and Code of Professional Responsibility, including cross-reference tables between the Model Rules and the Model Code.  Annual.  KF 305 .A15 M63x.

National Reporter on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility.  Good source for state ethics materials, including codes, opinions and bibliography of recent ethics-related bar journal articles.   Bethesda, Md.: LexisNexis Academic and Library Solutions (1982-). Looseleaf Services KF 308 .A6 N37.

ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs (1984- ).
Biweekly.   Covers ethical issues including fee agreements, conflicts of interest, confidentiality, malpractice, and withdrawal from representation.   Includes full text of ABA Formal Opinions 346 (1982) to present, and digests of state ethics opinions since 1986.  (Full text of state ethics opinions can usually be found in state bar journals.)
Manual binder and Current Reports binder shelved in: RESERVE KF 305 .A8 A2.  Transfer binders (older materials) shelved at Looseleaf Services KF 305 .A8 A2.This title is available electronically in Mondale Hall and remotely to law students.

Opinions

Note that the ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct, above, has full text of ABA opinions from 1982 to the present.
The ABA and the American Bar Foundation have published several different compilations of ethics opinions, covering various time spans.  In 1989, the ABA stopped issuing "Informal Opinions."  Before 1961, Informal Opinions were published in summary format only, and some are missing from the published collections.

Recent Ethics Opinions. Chicago: Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association. This is the current ABA publication.  It contains both formal (84-349-current, from 1983- ) and informal opinions (Informal Opinions 1286 to 89-1530, from 1983-1989), and is published irregularly.  RESERVE KF 305 .A2.  Also available at Mfiche KF 325.1344 .A15A428.

Formal and Informal Ethics Opinions: Formal Opinions 316-348,  Informal Opinions 1285-1495.  Covers Formal Opinions from 1967-1982, Informal Opinions from 1974-1982.  Chicago: Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association, c1985.  KF 305 .A2 1985.

Informal Ethics Opinions.  [Chicago]: Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association, c1975.  KF 305 .A2 1975 (two volumes).  Volume 1 contains opinions 230(a)-866 (1961-1966); Volume 2 contains opinions 867-1284 (1965-1973).  One set on RESERVE; another at Mfiche KF325.1344 .A95 1975.

Opinions of the Committee on Professional Ethics: with the Canons of Professional Ethics, annotated, and Canons of Judicial Ethics. 1967 ed. Chicago: American Bar  Foundation, c1967.   Contains Formal Opinions 1 to 315 (1924-1965). KF 305 .A2 1967; also at  Mfiche KF325.246 .A943 1967.

National Reporter on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility.  Good source for state ethics materials, including codes, opinions and bibliography of recent ethics-related bar journal articles.   Bethesda, Md.: LexisNexis Academic and Library Solutions, (1982-) Looseleaf Services KF 308 .A6 N37.

Supplement to Appendix A of Canons of Professional and Judicial Ethics-Opinions of Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances, 1958 to 1959.  Chicago: American Bar Foundation, 1959.  KF294.A3 .A35 No.7.

Supplement to Appendix A of Canons of Professional and Judicial Ethics-Opinions of Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances, 1952 to June 1958.  Chicago: American Bar Foundation, 1959.   KF 294.A3 A35 No.6.

Opinions of the Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances [microform]: with the Canons of Professional Ethics, annotated, and Canons of Judicial Ethics.  Chicago: The Committee, 1947.  Mfiche KF325.243 .A94 1947.

Opinions of the Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances [microform]: with the Canons of Professional Ethics, annotated, and Canons of Judicial Ethics.  Chicago: The Committee, 1936.   Mfiche KF325.243 .A94 1936.

Opinions of the Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances [microform]: with the Canons of Professional Ethics, annotated, and Canons of Judicial Ethics. Chicago: The Committee, 1931?.  Mfiche KF325.243 .A94 1931.

Formal Opinions [microform].  Chicago: Committee on Professional Ethics, American Bar Association, 1969?-1973?.   Mfiche KF325.1344 .A15A424.

Informal Ethics Opinions.  Chicago: Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association, c1975. Contains Informal Opinions C-230(a) to 1284 (1961 - 1973).  KF 305 .A2 1975.

Informal Opinion [sic] [microform].  Chicago: Committee on Professional Ethics, American Bar Association,  1961?-1973?].   Mfiche KF325.1344 .A15A426.

Informal Opinions [microform]. Chicago: Committee on Professional Ethics, American Bar Association, [1969?].  Mfiche KF325.246 .A945 1969.

Olavi Maru & Roger L. Clough eds., Digest of Bar Association Ethics Opinions.  Compilation of digests of ABA and state ethics opinions.  Chicago:  American Bar Foundation, 1970.  KF 305 .A2 1970 (with 1970, 1975 and 1980 supplements).

Summaries of recent ABA ethics opinions are available from the ABA (http://www.abanet.org/cpr/pubs/ethicopinions.html).

LexisNexis and Westlaw provide the full text of all ABA formal opinions (1924-present). Westlaw has informal opinions from 1945; LexisNexis from 1959.

Minnesota

Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (http://www.courts.state.mn.us/lprb/conduct.html).

The Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct appear in the annual Minnesota Rules of Court deskbook, in the state volume.  KFM 5929 .A193 (copies on RESERVE, LAW PRIMARY, REFERENCE OFFICE, and the main collection).
The Rules also appear in the official Minnesota Statutes ( KFM 5429 .M56, Court Rules volume) and in Minnesota Statutes Annotated (KFM 5430 1946 .A315, vol. 52).  (Official and annotated statutes are on RESERVE, and in LAW PRIMARY and the REFERENCE OFFICE).

Opinions of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board (includes opinions adopted and amended through March 26, 1993).   St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board: Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility,
1993.  KFM 5476.5 .A2 M56x 1993.

Opinion.  St. Paul, Minn.: Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board (1972- ).  This includes all opinions of the Board.  RESERVE KFM 5476.5 .A2 A17x.  All these opinions also appear on the web, at http://www.mncourts.gov/lprb/opinions.html.  They are also available on Westlaw (MNETH-EO).  Selected opinions are available on LexisNexis (Legal > States Legal - U.S. > Minnesota > Agency & Administrative Materials > National Reporter on Legal Ethics & Prof. Responsibility - MN). 

 


Periodical Indexes & Bibliographies

 

Periodical Indexes

Periodical articles often provide useful information on legal ethics. LegalTrac or Index to Legal Periodicals can be used to find such articles by keyword, subject, author, article title, or citations of cases, rules, and statutes.  These two indexes are available electronically in the law library from the law library's home page, or in paper format as the LegalTrac and Index to Legal Periodicals & Books.  Both indexes use the subject heading "Legal Ethics."

Specific journals on legal ethics include:
The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics.  Washington, D.C. : Georgetown University Law Center (1987- ). Quarterly.

The Professional Lawyer: PL.  Chicago, IL: Special Coordinating Committee on Professionalism, American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility (1989- ). Quarterly.

Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy.  Notre Dame, Ind.: Thomas J. White Center on Law & Government,
Notre Dame Law School (1984- ).  Quarterly.

Legal Ethics.  Oxford:  Hart Publishing (1998- ).  Semi-annually. 

Bibliographies

The ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct includes a good bibliography.  Looseleaf Services KF305.A1 A2 (1984- ). This title is available electronically from Mondale Hall and remotely to law students.

Bibliography of Legal Articles, Textbooks, and Treatises on Professional Responsibility: 1970-1983.  Chicago: American Bar Association, Center for Professional Responsibility, c1984. KF305.A1 B52x 1984.

National Reporter on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility.  Good source for state ethics materials, including codes, opinions and bibliography of recent ethics-related bar journal articles.   Bethesda, Md.: LexisNexis Academic and Library Solutions, (1982-) Looseleaf Services KF 308 .A6 N37.

Todd W. Grant, Resources for Research in Legal Ethics.  Buffalo, NY: W.S. Hein, c1992.  KF 306 .G73 1992.

Frederick A. Elliston & Jane van Schaick, Legal Ethics: An Annotated Bibliography and Resource Guide.  Littleton, Colo.: F.B. Rothman, 1984.  KF305.A1 E44 1984.

Dittakavi Nagasankara Rao, Legal Ethics, Professional Responsibility: A Selected Bibliography of Articles.  Monticello, Ill.: Vance Bibliographies, 1985.  KF305.A1 N33 1985.

 


Citators & Indexes

 

Shepard's Professional and Judicial Conduct Citations. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Shepard's/McGraw-Hill, 1st ed. (1991-).  Irregular.  Provides caselaw and ABA ethics opinion citations to ABA standards and opinions.  Reference KF 308 .A535 S46. NOTE: Library cancelled subscription in 2011.

ABA/BNA Lawyer's Manual on Professional Conduct (Current Reports volume) contains citations to current ABA and state opinions citing rules and codes.  See the table of disciplinary rules at the end of the volume.  RESERVE KF 305 .A8 A2

The 1967 and 1985 collections of ABA opinions (see Standards and Opinions, above) also list ABA opinions citing other ABA opinions.

 


Texts, Treatises, Forms & CLE Publications

 

American Law Institute, Restatement of the Law, The Law Governing Lawyers.  St. Paul, MN:  American Law Institute (2000- ).  RESERVE KF 300 .R475x 2000.

A Century of Legal Ethics: Trial Lawyers and the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics.  Chicago: American Bar Association Section of Litigation (c2009).  KF306.C46 2009.

Richard E. Flamm, Lawyer Disqualification:  Conflicts of Interest and Other Bases.  Berkeley, Calif.: Banks and Jordan Law Publishing Company (c2003). KF306 .F53x 2003.

Monroe H. Freedman & Abbe Smith, Understanding Lawyers' Ethics.  4th ed.  New Providence, NJ: LexisNexis (c2010).  RESERVE KF306 .F76 2010.

Geoffrey Hazard, W. William Hodes, & John S. Dzienkowski, The Law of Lawyering, 3d ed. Gaithersburg, Md.: Aspen Law & Business (2001- ).Two volumes.  RESERVE KF306 .H33.

A Legislative History:  The Development of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, 1982-1998.  Chicago: Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association (1999).   KF 306 .L45 1999.

Ronald D. Rotunda & Michael I. Krauss, Legal Ethics in a Nutshell. St Paul, MN: Thomson/West (c2006).  RESERVE KF306.Z9 R667x 2006.

Ronald D. Rotunda, Professional Responsibility:  A Student's Guide, 2002-2003 [ed.].  St. Paul, MN : West Group (c2002).  KF306.Z9 R68x 2002.

Professional Responsibility & Elimination of Bias.  Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Institute of Legal Education (2000).   One of the annual MILE series.  RESERVE KF 209 .M55 2000 no.55.
To find other Minnesota CLE publications, use the MNCAT Discovery Catalog keyword search legal education AND professional responsibility.

Charles Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics (1986).  A West hornbook.  RESERVE KF306 .W65 1986.

 


Multistate Professional Responsibilty Exam

 

The Law Library has a set of sample questions for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) on Reserve. The MPRE: Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination: MPRE Sample Questions VI (2002). RESERVE KF303.M84x 2002.;

 

The Nutshell is also helpful: Ronald D. Rotunda & Michael I. Krauss, Legal Ethics in a Nutshell. St Paul, MN: Thomson/West (c2006). RESERVE KF306.Z9 R667x 2006.

 


Related Web Sites

 

Legalethics.com (http://www.legalethics.com) has a variety of state legal ethics materials in its "Ethics" section.

The ABA Center for Professional Responsibility has a many useful resources including a research guide, "Selected Materials for Research in Legal Ethics."

Cornell's American Legal Ethics Library (http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/) contains links to state ethics materials.