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Professional Responsibility Resource Guide: Be Prepared to Practice Responsibly: Secondary Sources

Please use this LibGuide as a start to your research. This is not meant to represent all the available information on the topic of Professional Responsibility. For further help, please see a reference librarian.

West Topic and Key Numbers

West's Topic and Key Number system is a unique tool to help you in your legal research.  Once you find a topic and key number that represents the legal issue you need to research, you have a "key" to finding headnotes that will lead to cases where courts have looked at your issue in the written opinion.  You will use secondary sources and finding tools called "digests" in conjunction with the key numbers.  You can also do topic and key number searching on Westlaw.

This list is to get you started.  It is not comprehensive.

K45 Attorney and Client.

k34-k61  Discipline.

k34  Tenure of office in general.

k36  Jurisdiction of courts.

k37  Grounds for discipline.

k37.1    - in general.

k38      - Character and conduct.

k39      - Criminal offenses and conviction thereof.

k40      - Admission fraudulently procured.

k41      - Falsification or abstraction of records or papers.

k42      - Deception of court or obstruction of administration of justice.

k43      - Contempt of court.

k44      - Misconduct as to client.

                (1). In general.

                (2).  Misappropriation and failure to account.

k45      - Misconduct in other than professional capacity.

k46  Defenses.

k47  Proceedings.

k59.1  Punishment; disposition.

k60  Operation and effect.

k61  Reinstatement.

Treatises and Practice Materials

Treatises are books on a specific legal topic written by an expert in the field.  Practice materials are materials usually written by experts in a field as a ready reference guide.

Restatement Third, The Law Governing Lawyers is available on Westlaw and LexisNexis.  While new in subject matter, this text is essentially a traditional Restatement, clarifying and synthesizing the common law applicable to the legal profession.

Law Review Articles

Law Review articles provide in-depth examination of legal issues and footnotes to primary and other sources.  Below are examples of relevant articles from law reviews, ABA journals, and New York Bar journals for professional responsibility topics.  (Articles have been linked to the full text article on HeinOnline.)

"Legal Malpractice and Professional Responsibility", Leubsdorf, 48 Rutgers L. Rev. 101 (1995)

"The Standard of Care in Legal Malpractice: Do the Model Rules of Professional Conduct Define it?" Munneke & Davis, 22 J. Legal Prof. 33 (1998)

"How to staff an ethics hotline: The New York County Lawyers' Association Experience [notes], Temkin, Barry R.; Eng, Gordon.  35 B. Leader 18 (2010-2011)

"Refusing to settle: a look at the Attorney's Ethical Dilemma in Client Settlement Decisions." Kim, Jane Y. 38 Wash. U.J.L. & Pol'y 383. (2012).

"Conquering competency and other professional responsibility pointers for appellate practitioners".  Thoman, Jay L.  2011 Army Law. 4 (2011).

 "If I knew then what I know now - lessons in ethics and professional responsibility for new bankruptcy and insolvency practitioners". 27 Emory Bankr. Dev. J. 313 (2010-2011).

"Attorney-client relationships: ethical dilemmas with clients battling addictions." Sparks, Erin. 36 J. Legal Prof. 255 (2011).

"New York makes itself a model state".  Acello, Richard. 95 ABA J. 22 (2009)

"Speaking out and taking action" [comments]. Tharp, Lorraine Power.  75 N.Y. St. B.A.J. 5 (2003).


ALR's and Encyclopedias

American Law Report (ALR) annotations are an amazing secondary source for gathering and analyzing caselaw from all jurisdictions: state and federal.  American Law Reports are available in print or on Westlaw and LexisNexis.

Use the index to search for Professional Responsibility issues. Here are a few helpful keywords:

  • Discipline and Disciplinary Actions
  • Drugs and Narcotics
  • Alcoholics and Alcoholism
  • Admission to Bar
  • Executors and Administrators
  • Judges
  • Malpractice by Attorney
  • Reinstatement
  • Prosecuting Attorneys

The following are examples of relevant ALR annotations:

  • Falsehoods, misrepresentations, impersonations, and other irresponsible conduct as bearing on requisite good moral character for admission to the bar, 8 A.L.R. 6th 1 (2005)
  • Reciprocal discipline of attorneys noncriminal misconduct towards clients not involving client funds 44 A.L.R. 6th 75 (2009)
  • Evidence, admissibility and effect of evidence of professional ethics rules in legal malpractice action, 50 A.L.R. 5th 301 (1997)
  • Malpractice:  Liability of Attorney Representing Conflicting Interests, 28 A.L.R. 3d 389 (1970)

Legal encyclopedias give a very broad short summary of a legal topic with footnotes to primary sources.  American Jurisprudence 2d (AmJur 2d) and Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.) are the primary national legal encyclopedias.  New York Jurisprudence 2d (NYJur 2d) is the legal encyclopedia for New York. Legal encyclopedias are available in print or on Westlaw and LexisNexis.

Here are a few relevant topics and sections:

  • 7 Am. Jur. 2d, Attorneys at Law sec. 38
  • 7A C.J.S., Attorney and Client secs. 72-75, 122
  • 76 N.Y. Jur. 2d, Malpractice secs. 37-80
  • 6A-7 N.Y. Jur. 2d, Attorneys at Law secs. 1 et seq.