“Waste Not, Want Not?”

It costs a heap of money to find all those cases and articles for that one brilliant lawyer’s argument! For many firms and legal services organizations, using Westlaw™ and LexisNexis® is too expensive to comprehend. This has led some lawyers to take advantage of opportunities to receive free access to these research tools, such as having law students using their school-issued passwords. Similarly, a former government employee may want to continue using his unlimited access to these research sites, even after he leaves government employ.

In a reciprocal discipline proceeding, the Oregon Supreme Court recently publicly reprimanded a lawyer, Everett Walton, because after leaving his job as a Hawaii special prosecutor, he continued to use the unlimited Westlaw access that he obtained while serving as a prosecutor for fourteen months. Upon switching employment, Walton decided to not waste the deeply discounted unlimited Westlaw access, especially because Thomson Reuters refused to allow him to cancel the contract. Instead, Walton used it to benefit the indigent clients of the legal aid organization for which he later began working, a seemingly noble cause. Despite the arguably laudable reason he used the access, the Oregon court found that Walton’s decision to avoid wasting his Westlaw access was conduct “involving dishonesty” in violation of Rule 8.4 of both the Hawai’i and Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct.

Check out the article in a recent edition of the ABA Journal Weekly as well as a link to the Oregon Supreme Court’s opinion here: Continuing Unlimited Access.