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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.

Ethics Opinions Using Subscription Databases

Westlaw Edge - Browse by State > Administrative Decisions & Guidance for state opinions. Enter the terms "ABA Ethics Materials" in the browse box for ABA opinions.

Lexis+ - Browse > Sources, and enter the terms ABA ethics opinions

Bloomberg Law - ABA/BNA Lawyers Manual on Professional Conduct

HeinOnline - State Attorney General Opinions from all 50 states, retrospective to first publication


The American Bar Association and each state's bar association issue ethics opinions. Opinions are written in response to requests for advice from lawyers wanting to know whether a past or contemplated future action violates an ethical code. Both formal and informal opinions are issued.

Formal opinons are those the ABA deems relevant to a large number of attorneys and tend to contain more in-depth discussion, while informal opinions are given in cases where the ABA does not believe there will be much interest. Formal opinions began in 1924, informal opinions began publication in 1961.

These opinions are recommendations to the attorney and are not enforceable. They may be cited in another case as persuasive authority to show how the ABA or the state bar has interpreted the Model Code or Model Rules.


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