Avoiding Plagiarism in Legal Documents
Kentucky Bench & Bar, Vol. 68, May 2006
3 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2007 Last revised: 30 May 2008
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
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