In response to recent inquiries regarding how the ABA disseminates information about new ethics opinions, here is what every lawyer and judge will want to know about accessing such guidance.

  • ABA Ethics Opinions are available to the public through the Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR) website for a minimum of one year free of charge.
  • Opinions also are available in law libraries, and on Westlaw and Lexis.
  • The ABA offers free and unlimited access to, and copies of, its professional responsibility materials — including ethics opinions — to individuals and entities engaged in 501(c)(3) charitable undertakings in which the program does not charge a fee or generate revenues.
  • Anyone, at any time, may purchase an ethics opinion for $20.
  • For $100 a year, ABA members can become members of the Center for Professional Responsibility Membership Program and receive unlimited access to a complimentary online ethics opinions library and other member benefits including a subscription to The Professional Lawyer and its annual scholarly Journal; copies of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct as updated; and discounts on Center publications and CLE programs.
  • Although it does not allow others to post ABA-copyrighted material on their own sites, the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility encourages other interested parties to link to the center’s website for ABA ethics resources.
  • The ABA operates ETHICSearch, a free ethics research service available to lawyers, judges and the media.  The service provides citations and information on relevant ABA ethics opinions, rules and other ethics resources.  The purpose of ETHICSearch is to help lawyers and judges to understand and resolve ethics questions.
Learn More About:  EthicsProfessional Responsibility

Comments (2)

  • Carolyn Elefant
    8:40 PM November 11, 2010

    This actually does not clarify anything that I didn’t know before. I complained about limited or pay-for-play access, and from what I can tell, access remains limited.

    1. The opinions are only available to the public for 6 months. Given that only 40% of lawyers are ABA members, yet are bound by its rules, that is not very significant.

    2. Opinions are available for only a year to ABA members. They are available unlimited for an extra $100 per year to join the CPR, but that is only open to ABA members. So effectively, to access the opinions, one must pay $250 to join the ABA, whatever additional section fees (my membership is $375) and an extra $100 or a total that could verge on $500. For that price, I can get a BNA subscription and get state ethics opinions as well.

    3. The ABA Ethics Search is available only to ABA members. Again, only 40% of lawyers belong to the ABA, so this doesn’t help the 60% who don’t belong.

    4. The ethics opinions available in the libraries are generally on Westlaw and LEXIS and cost money as well.

  • V Window Curry
    4:19 PM November 20, 2011

    Let it be known that in ordr to make money, one must spend money. The ABA has a stellar purpose and should not be looked at lightly. With the powers that it holds, there is one argument that when Fourty pr=ercent of all attorneys are members and they seem to have no difficuly in the interpetation of the law; within interpation of the law. It would seem silly to ask a person outside of the organization for advice of any type. There is a broad line of both trust and competency when an attorney enters a case/court of any type , within the United States Governmeny inproperly prepared and having to established legal history or background in any particular case that he is doing his/her client a diservice.