Yes, We Can: Embrace The Case for Plagiarism to Enhance Access to Justice

“As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of . . . access to the legal system. . . . A lawyer should be mindful . . . that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance. . . . A lawyer . . . should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.”

Lawyers who lie or steal can face disciplinary consequences for those misdeeds, as they should. They have duties to their clients, to the courts, and to the public; those duties are inconsistent with misrepresenting fact or law, and they are inconsistent with misusing the money or property that others have entrusted to their care.

But what about lawyers who “present[] another person’s ideas, information, expressions, or entire work as [their] own,” thereby engaging in plagiarism? Plagiarizing lawyers have been disciplined based on the notion that they lied, misrepresenting someone else’s ideas or language as their own; they can also be declared copyright infringers for misusing another lawyer’s intellectual property by copying that person’s legal writing without permission.