References for Researching Ethics Questions
Florida Rules of Professional Conduct
Adopted in 1987 to replace the old Code of Professional Responsibility, these rules are the basic ethical standards for attorney conduct in Florida. They are found in Chapter 4 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The Rules of Professional Conduct are published in: Florida Rules of Court (Thomson Reuters Publishing Co.) and Volume 35 of Florida Statutes Annotated.
Rules Regulating Trust Accounting
Rules Regulating Trust Accounting are found in Chapter 5 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. These rules set out the minimum procedures required in connection with maintaining a trust account.
Florida cases in which the Rules of Professional Conduct are cited can be located by reviewing: Shepard’s Professional and Judicial Conduct Citations; the “Attorney & Client” section of Florida Digest 2d; and Volume 35 of Florida Statutes Annotated. LEXIS, Westlaw, and Fastcase (available free to Bar members) computer services are quick and easy ways to search for cases citing specific rules.
Cases from Other Jurisdictions
Cases from other jurisdictions, both state and federal, can be found in several sources. One of the easiest-to-use tools is Shepard’s Professional and Judicial Conduct Citations. Organized by ABA Model Rule number (to convert a Florida rule number to the ABA Model Rule number, just drop the “4-” from the Florida rule). LEXIS, Westlaw, and Fastcase computer services are quick and easy ways to search for cases citing specific rules.
Formal Advisory Ethics Opinions
Formal advisory ethics opinions issued by the Professional Ethics Committee of The Florida Bar are collected and indexed on this website. Ethics opinions are searchable by subject as well as by opinion number.
ABA/BNA Lawyers Manual on Professional Conduct
An excellent resource to check when beginning research on an unfamiliar ethics issue is the ABA/Bloomberg Lawyers Manual on Professional Conduct, available for purchase online by Bloomberg Law. This reference contains commentary on ethics topics and discusses cases and ethics opinions from throughout the country. Also helpful is the ABA Annotated Model Rules of Professional Conduct, published by the American Bar Association.
Law Review Articles
Law review articles are also a great source of information, especially on “hot topics” in ethics. Law review articles discuss specific issues in great depth and contain citations to many other authorities. Locate these articles on Westlaw.
Informal Advisory Opinions
Informal advisory opinions about a Florida Bar member’s own future conduct are available through the Florida Bar Ethics Department. For an oral opinion, call toll-free 1‑800‑235‑8619, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Members may leave a message at 1‑850‑561‑5780. For a written informal opinion, which takes 3‑5 weeks, write to The Florida Bar Ethics Department at 651 E. Jefferson St., Tallahassee, Florida 32399‑2300 or email the Ethics Department. Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.