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Researching Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility

American Bar Association

The ABA's Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issues formal and informal ethics opinions. Formal opinions are issued on matters that are deemed of general interest to the bar; informal opinions are issued for specific inquiries relating to a particular set of facts. These opinions are not binding on any specific jurisdiction, but may be given great weight by investigators and policymakers. No informal opinions have been issued since 1989.

ABA opinions online:

  • ABA website: only the latest opinions are available to non-members; members have full access to the opinion archives, which hold opinions from 1983-present.
  • Lexis: Legal opinions in general are located in the "Administrative Materials" section of the Legal Ethics topic. It includes  ABA Formal Ethics Opinions (beginning with No. 1 from 1924) &  ABA Informal Ethics Opinions (beginning with December 31, 1959 through 1989).
  • Westlaw:  ABA Ethics Opinions (beginning with January 1924 for formal opinions and July 1961 for informal opinions). State legal opinions are located by going to the state's Westlaw search page, then selecting "Administrative Decisions & Guidance."

ABA opinions in print (all of these are available in the Law Library at the call numbers listed):

State Ethics Opinions

  • This publication provides an easy-to-use list of ethics agencies for every state, including links.
 National Reporter on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility (available on Lexis)
 

Digest of Bar Association Ethics Opinions