How to Help Yourself: Researching the Law Governing Lawyers
The Practical Lawyer, Vol. 56, No. 5, October 2010
9 Pages Posted: 2 May 2012
Date Written: 2010
This article is intended to help you find the relevant sources you need to provide reliable answers to issues about lawyer conduct. To do this, you will need to identify issues, understand the basic resources that can provide you with the knowledge you need, employ some advanced research techniques, and evaluate the materials you discover to know whether to pursue additional research in other jurisdictions. This article also should help you identify legal ethics issues. Additionally, it should familiarize you with sections of the lawyer codes that speak to general obligations of lawyers, such as competence, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and the limits of the law. When a problem involving the conduct of lawyers arises, the first step in solving it is to define these issues. You may immediately discover some, such as confidentiality or loyalty, and you may immediately recognize the relevance of specific professional rules, such as Model Rule 1.6 or 1.7. Whether or not this occurs, be open to the possibility that additional lawyer code provisions or other legal remedies also may be relevant to your inquiry.
We have relied on national standards (the ABA Model Rules and the ALI's Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers) in writing this article. Although these models provide the template for most state law, the answer to the issue that you face may differ in any given jurisdiction. This is why you must know how to locate your jurisdiction's lawyer code, case law, and ethics opinions, and the range of remedies that may exist for the conduct you propose or have engaged in. If your jurisdiction has not yet addressed an issue, you will need to find relevant analogs in other jurisdictions, and recognize when it is time to find an expert.
Keywords: legal research, legal ethics, professional responsibility
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation