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Legal Ethics Sites
by Tom Mighell
April 2005

This month’s subject, Malpractice, doesn’t automatically lend itself to relevant, topical web sites; a search on “legal malpractice” on Google or Yahoo mostly pulls up sites for lawyers advertising their services. The same goes for “risk management” lawyer. So we’ll concentrate our efforts on high-quality ethics sites on the Internet, of which there are several. This article will serve as a partial update to Bob Ambrogi’s excellent 2003 survey, “Top Sites: In Search of Ethics on the Internet,” which appeared in the March 2003 issue of Law Practice Magazine.

ABA Center for Professional Responsibility (http://www.abanet.org/cpr/home.html) easily the most feature-laden site of the bunch, the CPR is the home to the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition to rules regulating lawyers, you’ll also find codes of judicial conduct and client protection, as well as ETHICSearch, a feature that allows you to ask ethics questions to research professionals, many times for free. The site also offers links on multidisciplinary and multijurisdictional practice. Some resources require you to be a member of the Center; subscribers have access to all ABA formal ethics opinions, the member directory, and two quarterly publications.

American Legal Ethics Library (http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/) – this terrific site provides links to most of the professional responsibility codes in the country. You can use the Listing by Jurisdiction option to get right to the rules of any particular state, as well as other ethics links; eighteen of them (17 states plus the District of Columbia) have narratives on their professional conduct laws. Even better, the Topical Overview allows you to see the differences between specific code provisions in these eighteen jurisdictions.

LegalEthics.com (http://www.legalethics.com) -- billing itself as "The Intersection of Ethics and the Law," this site is maintained by Mercer Law professor David Hricik and Peter Krakaur. Just select a category and a topic, and you're off. Many of the resources deal with "cyber-ethics," or how not to commit malpractice with technology. Like the other sites, you'll also be able to access ethics materials by state. David Hricik also has his own Legal Ethics and Risk Management Page (http://www.hricik.com/business.html) that provides other articles, links and discussions on the subject.

Legal Ethics Forum (http://legalethicsforum.typepad.com/blog/) -- three law school educators from different parts of the country have joined together to create a terrific weblog featuring constantly-updated materials on issues in legal ethics. Recent topics include interviewing jurors, conflict checks, disciplinary review, and lawyer advertising. The sidebar also contains some great ethics resources not mentioned in this article, especially the academic sites and journals.

Freivogel on Conflicts (http://www.freivogelonconflicts.com/) -- Bill Frievogel maintains this simply-designed site, intended as a "practical online guide to conflicts of interest for lawyers with sophisticated business and litigation practices." There aren't any outbound links to other ethics sites, but there's no need for that; the information provided here stands quite well on its own. The site is regularly updated with new case law and other information.

sunEthics (http://www.sunethics.com/) -- although this site is primarily geared to Florida lawyers (and the Florida resources are great!), there's also a page of state-by-state ethics links, as well as national ethics sites.

Virtual Chase Legal Ethics Guide (http://www.virtualchase.com/resources/ethics.shtml) -- Genie Tyburski's wonderful Virtual Chase site is the host for this research guide on legal ethics. This pathfinder will lead you to federal agencies, state ethics sites, and other top professional responsibility resources.

LegalEthicsBlog (http://www.legalethicsblog.com/) -- Kentucky lawyer Ben Cowgill served as Kentucky bar counsel, and now he's blogging about legal ethics and the laws governing lawyers. He already has 1,500 pages of reference material, as well as links to many other ethics pages. He blogged about the intersection of ethics and technology during ABA TECHSHOW -- I look forward to great stuff from this blog.

Legal Ethics Opinion Summaries (http://www.mcguirewoods.com/services/leo/) -- McGuire Woods attorney Tim Spahn has prepared summaries of Virginia and ABA Legal Ethics Opinions, and made them available free of charge. You can search the summaries by topic, date, or by keyword.

Ethics resources on the Internet are somewhat finite; there are not an overabundance of high-quality ethics sites out there right now. It is undeniable, however, that many of the pages currently available are of very high quality. Good law practice risk management dictates that you keep these sites close at hand, for whenever a question arises in your own practice.


Tom Mighell is Senior Counsel and Litigation Technology Support Coordinator at Cowles & Thompson, P.C. in Dallas. He has published the Internet Legal Research Weekly newsletter since 2005, and the weblog Inter Alia since 2002. He is a member of the 2006 ABA TECHSHOW planning board.