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Legal Ethics Research

This guide focuses on the codes of professional ethics and ethics opinions available from the American Bar Association, and various state bar associations.

Disciplinary Proceedings


The Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) publishes extensive information regarding lawyer discipline at its website.

Information included: 

  • Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Advisory opinions
  • Disciplinary notices
  • Steps & forms for filing a grievance against a lawyer


Lawyers can be disciplined for a breach of state ethics rules in the state where they are licensed.

Each state has it's own disciplinary procedure for violations of its rules, but generally there is an initial, informal process to determine whether the charge or complaint filed requires a full administrative hearing. If a hearing is held, it is before an administrative board, usually created under the authority of the state's highest court. Appeals from these hearings are allowed, generally directed to the state's highest court.

Results of disciplinary proceedings are most often found in the state's bar journal, but few states publish "opinions" regarding these hearings. It is usually only in the appellate court opinion that analysis of the ethics violation can found.

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