Legal Ethics

Hiring Law Students for Free Online Research Is Widespread and Unethical, Opinion Says


Budget-minded lawyers who think they can hire law students for their free access to Lexis and Westlaw should think again, according to a Utah ethics opinion.

A lawyer who uses law students to access free online research violates ethical rules, according to the Nov. 15 opinion by the Utah State Bar Ethics Opinion Advisory Committee. The Legal Skills Prof Blog has the story.

According to the opinion, numerous students have reported that their employment is conditioned on providing free research for their employers. Such research amounts to theft of services because students have signed user agreements restricting free research to educational and nonprofit purposes, the opinion says.

Misusing student privileges violates a lawyer’s duty of supervision and is conduct involving dishonesty or misrepresentation, the opinion adds.

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