Research Guides

Legal Profession

Please contact Maxine Grosshans, the course liaison, for research-related questions at mgrosshans@law.umaryland.edu.

Getting Started | Secondary Sources: Journals & Law Reviews | Secondary Sources: Books | Primary Sources: Statutory Materials | Primary Sources: Ethics Opinions | Primary Sources: Case Law | Related Websites


Getting Started

As with any project, unless you are already knowledgeable about the topic area, it is best to start with basic, introductory resources and then to consult more focused works, moving from secondary sources to primary sources.

When beginning research in the area of the Legal Profession or Legal Ethics, secondary sources such as articles and books can provide you with an overview and help you think of search terms you might not have thought of otherwise. They also cite primary authorities -- statutes and cases. A good starting place is a treatise such as Understanding Lawyers' Ethics (4th ed., 2010) [KF 306.F76 2010], Professional Responsibility and Regulation (2d ed., 2007) [KF 306.R468 2007], or Legal Ethics in a Nutshell (3d ed., 2007) [KF 306.Z9 R688 2007] You can then use the primary sources cited in secondary sources as a jumping off point to find other primary sources in several ways:

  • Shepardize or KeyCite them to see what other sources have cited them;
  • Read cases to see what other sources they cite;
  • On Westlaw or in West Digests, look up the topics and key numbers in the cases you've already read to find other cases that address the same issues;
  • On Lexis, use "More Like This" to find other sources with wording or citation patterns similar to the document you started with;
  • Read annotations to statutes to find cross references to cases that have analyzed them or regulations that have been issued under their authority.

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Secondary Sources: Journals & Law Reviews

The two main indexes to law journals are LegalTrac and Index to Legal Periodicals & Books (which includes books as well). These indexes include references to many journals not included in Westlaw or Lexis databases and in some cases provide access to the full text electronically. Each of these two online indexes has a parallel print version: the Current Law Index [K33 .C87], and the Index to Legal Periodicals [K9 .N32] are shelved near the print journals on level 1. The Index to Legal Periodicals is particularly helpful if you need to find articles published prior to 1980. For additional help on finding articles, link to Finding Articles in Legal Journals and Law Reviews.

Most print journals are shelved on level 1 of the library, in alphabetical order by journal title. Many of these journals also have an electronic version. To find out if the library has a particular journal title in electronic format, use the e-journals link on the Library web page or the Full Text Citation Linker (The Linker does not offer full coverage of all online full-text at the library and it requires a Blackboard login, journal title, and year of publication.)

Journals:

While most general law reviews publish articles on the Legal Profession and Legal Ethics, there are a number that focus specifically on the topic Listed below are electronic links to these journals. Of course, these titles are also available in print (Level 1).

Lexis:

Westlaw:

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Books

Use the online catalog to find treatises on the Legal Profession or Legal Ethics available in the Thurgood Marshall Law Library. Some suggested subject headings to search are Lawyers - United States or Legal Ethics - United States. For research hints on how to use the catalog, see the Research Guide - Searching the Catalog.

Here are some titles that might give you a head-start:

  • Leslie W. Abramson, Acing Professional Responsibility: A Checklist Approach to Professional Responsibility Problems.
    [KF 306.A735 2009]
  • American Bar Association, Annotated Model Rules of Professional Conduct (6th ed., 2007)
    [KF 305.A75 A55 2007]
  • Ronald D. Rotunda, Legal Ethics in a Nutshell (3d ed., 2007)
    [KF 306.Z9 R688 2007]
  • ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct [KF 305.A8 A116]
  • Thomas D. Morgan & Ronald D. Rotunda, Model Code of Professional Responsibility, Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Other Selected Standards Including California dn New York Rules on Professional Responsibility.
    [KF 305.A15 M62]
  • Donald D. Rotunda, Professional Responsibility: A Student's Guide.
    [KF 306.R681 2010]
  • Deborah L. Rhode, Professional Responsibility and Regulation.
    [KF 306.R468 2007]
  • Monroe Freedman, Understanding Lawyers' Ethics (4th ed., 2010)
    [KF 306.F76 2010]


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Primary Sources: Statutory Materials

The primary source when researching Legal Profession or Legal Ethics is the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The American Bar Association first adopted Canons of Professional Ethics in 1908. These standards have governed the legal profession ever since. The latest version of the rules is the Model Rules of Professional Conduct - adopted in 1983 and amended periodically.

The Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct are contained in the Maryland Rules and they can be accessed via the Maryland Research Page, Lexis or Westlaw, or paper.

Some useful electronic sources of the Code of Professional Conduct are linked below:

Free:

Lexis:

Westlaw:

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Primary Sources: Ethics Opinions

Ethics opinions are issued by the American Bar Association as well as each state's bar association and are written in answer to requests for advice from lawyers. The ABA issues both Formal and Informal opinions. Formal ethics opinions are those that impact on large numbers of attorneys. Informal ethics opinions involve situations that are more narrow in scope and in which there is not much interest.

State bar journals are a good source of published ethics opinions. Tthe Maryland Bar Journal is a good source for recent opinions. Links to state ethics opinions can also be found in the American Legal Ethics Library. The Maryland State Bar Association publishes its ethics opinions - Opinions on Ethics and Professional Responsibility [KFM 1276.5 .A2 M3]. Access is also available via the Maryland State Bar Association webpage - http://www.msba.org/ . But you must be a member of MSB to access.

Free:

Lexis:

Westlaw:

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Primary Sources: Case Law

In the area of the Legal Profession or Legal Ethics opinions handed down by the courts are more important than the ethics opinions of bar associations. LEXIS and WESTLAW both have databases dealing with ethics cases. Both of these sources have powerful search engines that make research easier. But you might want to start with a Key Number or digest topic - Attorney and Client will take you in the right direction.

Free Resources:

Note: Free databases do not include cases dating back as far as the materials in Lexis and Westlaw databases. It is not recommended that you use free case law databases in your research.

Lexis:

Tip: If you find one good case on Lexis, you may be able to find others by identifying the headnote that best describes the issue of interest to you, then clicking "More Like This Headnote," or by Shepardizing the case to find other cases that have cited it for the issue represented by that headnote.

Westlaw:

Tip: If you find one good case on Westlaw, you may be able to find others by identifying the headnote that best describes the issue of interest to you, then clicking "Most Cited Cases" for that headnote. You could also try clicking "KeyCite Notes" to find other cases that have cited your good case for issue represented by that headnote.

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Related Websites

Listed below is a selected list of websites of organizations and other Legal Profession or Legal Ethics


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Created by Maxine Grosshans - May 13, 2011 and last updated July 25, 2012

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