This Research Guide is designed to assist users in the navigation of resources on professional responsibility, a sprawling topic in today's legal world. It provides references to books, electronic databases, web resources, journals, and sources specific to North and South Carolina.
Beginning Your Research:
As with all legal research, jurisdiction is critical. One should begin researching the rules of professional responsibility in the state in which the rules were promulgated (either by the supreme court or by the legislature). After this, it may be necessary to consult a model or uniform rule (such as those promulgated by the American Bar Association).
After identifying the appropriate rule, it may be necessary to consult other authorities. Listed below is a guide to determining the hierarchy of authorities, listed from the most to least authoritative:
· State judicial cases interpreting and applying the rule;
· The state agency’s ethics opinions;
· Comments to the state rule
· Bar association advisory opinions; [These opinions often illustrate a specific set of facts, serve as “test cases”, are relied upon by attorneys in their practice, etc.]
Persuasive / Secondary Authorities:
· Ethics opinions, including comments, from the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, both formal (statements intended to clarify a rule or address a topic of general interest) and informal (responding to a specific inquiry and involving less common concerns);
· Comments to the model rules; (the specific state rule may differ from the model rule so the model rules should be considered “persuasive” authority)
· And Secondary Authorities (such as Restatement, Third, on the Law Governing Lawyers, the practice guides available as part of the ABA/BNA Lawyer’s Manual on Professional Conduct and law review articles.