Avoiding Plagiarism in Legal Documents

3 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2007 Last revised: 30 May 2008

See all articles by Judith D. Fischer

Judith D. Fischer

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law


Lawyers may believe they know what constitutes plagiarism in student papers, but the rules about plagiarism in the practice of law are less clear. Forms from form books and law firm files are meant to be copied, so there is no issue of copyright violation. Still, the lawyer who uses such a form must tailor it to the needs of the specific case. And lawyers have been disciplined for filing documents containing language they copied from treatises without attribution. This problem was exacerbated in one case where the lawyer asked for fees for preparing material he had not written. Professionalism means that documents filed with a court must analyze the facts and issues in the pending case, and any material from published sources must be properly attributed.

Keywords: Plagiarism, legal writing, lawyer, attorney, copy, document, brief, filed, court, form book, form file, analysis, client, professionalism, Lane, Iowa

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Judith D., Avoiding Plagiarism in Legal Documents. Kentucky Bench & Bar, Vol. 68, May 2006, University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2008-22, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=992332

Judith D. Fischer (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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