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Richard H. Underwood


Edward T. Breathitt Professor of Law

215 Mandrell Hall

(859) 257-1678


Professor Underwood began teaching at the University of Kentucky in 1980. Prior to that he clerked for U.S. District Judge David S. Porter (1976-78) and practiced at the Columbus, Ohio firm of Vorys, Sater Seymour and Pease. Professor Underwood served as the Chairman of the Kentucky Bar Associations Ethics Committee (1984-1998), Chairman of the Unauthorized Practice Committee (1984-1996), and Chairman of the KBA Model Rules Committee (1988-1989). He was a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility (2011-2014). He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Life Fellow of the Kentucky Bar Foundation. Professor Underwood is currently a member of the Kentucky Supreme Court Evidence Rules Review Commission. He served in the Army from 1969 to 1973, and he is a Viet Nam War Veteran.


  • B.S., summa cum laude, The Ohio State University (1969)
  • J.D., summa cum laude, The Ohio State University (1976)


  • Legal Ethics
  • Evidence
  • Insurance
  • Remedies
  • Trial Advocacy

Books & Book Chapters

  • CrimeSong: True Crime Stories from Southern Murder Ballads (Shadelandhouse 2016).
  • Kentucky Evidence Courtroom Manual (LexisNexis) (annual publication) (with Glen Weissenberger).
  • Kentucky Legal Ethics Deskbook (Univ. of Ky. CLE, 5th ed., 2016) (with Todd B. Eberle, Timothy S. Chase, Kurt X. Metzmeier & Tracy J. Taylor).
  • Modern Litigation and Professional Responsibility (Little Brown & Co. / Aspen 1996) (with William Fortune & Edward Imwinkelreid). 
  • Medicine and the Law, in Professional and Practice Development (Emery A. Wilson & L. Reed Polk eds., 1990).
  • Trial Ethics (Little Brown & Co. 1988) (with William Fortune).

Scholarly Articles

Scholarship is available for download at Richard H. Underwood's SelectedWorks page.

  • A Riff on Billy the Kid, 32 Touro L. Rev. 225 (2016).
  • Something Bad in Your Briefs, 37 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 369 (2013).
  • Ringers Revisited, 37 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 129 (2013).
  • Following the Rules: Exclusion of Witness, Sequestration, and No-Consultation Orders, 35 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 523 (2012).
  • Making Stuff Up, 34 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 151 (2010).
  • The Sad, Sad Story of Lula Viers, 15 J. S. Legal Hist. 259 (2007) (with Sharon Ray).
  • Stella Kenney: A Little Problem in Evidence, 14 J. S. Legal Hist. 119 (2006).
  • Crimesong: Some Murder Ballads and Poems Revisited, 12 J. S. Legal Hist. 5 (2004) (with Carol J. Paris).
  • What I Think That I Have Learned about Legal Ethics, 39 Idaho L. Rev. 245 (2003).
  • What Gets Judges in Trouble, 23 J. Nat'l Ass'n Admin. L. Judges 101 (2003).
  • Not So Great Moments in Trial Advocacy: Clement Vallandigham, 13 Widener L.J. 185 (2003).
  • The Attorney-Client and Work Product Privileges: The Case for Protecting Internal Investigations on the University Campus, 90 Ky. L.J. 531 (2001-2002) (with Virginia H. Underwood).
  • Administrative Adjudication in Kentucky: Ethics and Unauthorized Practice Considerations, 29 N. Ky. L. Rev. 359 (2002).
  • Evaluating Scientific and Forensic Evidence, 24 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 149 (2000). 
  • Book Review, 29 N. Ky. L. Rev. 237 (2002) (reviewing John Evangelist Walsh, Moonlight: Abraham Lincoln and the Almanac Trial (2000)).
  • The Professional and the Liar, 87 Ky. L.J. 919 (1999).
  • Perjury! The Charges and the Defenses, 36 Duq. L. Rev. 715 (1998).
  • The Limits of Cross-Examination, 21 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 113 (1997).
  • Genetics, Genetic Testing, and the Specter of Discrimination: A Discussion Using Hypothetical Cases, 85 Ky. L.J. 665 (1997) (with Ronald C. Cadle).
  • Perjury: An Anthology, 13 Ariz. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 307 (1996).
  • "X-Spurt" Witnesses, 19 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 343 (1995).
  • Logic and the Common Law Trial, 18 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 151 (1994).
  • False Witness: A Lawyer's History of the Law of Perjury, 10 Ariz. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 215 (1993).
  • Part-Time Prosecutors and Conflicts of Interest: A Survey and Some Proposals, 81 Ky. L.J. 1 (1992).
  • Confessions of an Ethics Chairman, 16 J. Legal Prof. 125 (1991).
  • Comments on Professor Rotunda's Essay, 76 Ky. L.J. 733 (1988).
  • Taking and Pursuing a Case: Some Observations Regarding "Legal Ethics" and Attorney Accountability, 74 Ky. L.J. 173 (1985).
  • Kentucky Law Survey, Insurance, 72 Ky. L.J. 403 (1984).
  • Discovery in Kentucky: An Overview, 72 Ky. L.J. 727 (1984).
  • Kentucky Law Survey, Evidence, 71 Ky. L.J. 287 (1983) (with Carolyn M. Geisler).
  • Legal Ethics and Class Actions: Problems, Tactics and Judicial Responses, 71 Ky. L.J. 787 (1983).
  • Adversary Ethics: More Dirty Tricks, 6 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 265 (1982).
  • Kentucky Law Survey, Insurance, 70 Ky. L.J. 255 (1982).
  • Curbing Litigation Abuses: Judicial Control of Adversary Ethics—The Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure, 56 St. John's L. Rev. 625 (1982).
  • The Doctor and His Lawyer: Conflicts of Interest, 30 U. Kan. L. Rev. 385 (1982).

April 19, 2017

And the winner is… Richard H. Underwood! The William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law has been announced as a winner of two Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) for his book, CrimeSong: True Crime Stories From Southern Murder Ballads.

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August 26, 2016

Richard H. Underwood, the William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law, has published a new book, CrimeSong: True Crime Stories From Southern Murder Ballads. The 328-page book plunges readers into the riveting true crimes behind 24 Southern murder ballads.

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developing ideas conference

On Wednesday, May 19, the University of Kentucky College of Law held its fifth annual Developing Ideas Conference.  Richard Ausness, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Everett H. Metcalf, Jr. Professor of Law at UK College of Law, spearheaded the 2015 Conference.

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Rick Underwood

Professor Richard Underwood, William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law, recently completed a three-year appointment on the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Prior to this committee, Professor Underwood served as the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) Ethics Chair for fourteen years, KBA Unauthorized Practice Chair for twelve years, and KBA Model Rules Chair when the Model Rules were first adopted. He has written several books and numerous articles on professional responsibility issues. 

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From March to June, six UK College of Law faculty members took part in UK College of Law Continuing Legal Education programs by presenting in their areas of expertise.

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UK Law Professors Huberfeld and Underwood

On June 24-25, the Fayette Circuit Court and Fayette County Bar Association presented the 2014 Annual Bench & Bar at the Fayette Circuit Court.

Two College of Law professors presented during the two-day event where participants had the opportunity to earn up to 12.5 total credit hours, including two hours of ethics credits. Professor Nicole Huberfeld presented on the Affordable Care Act on June 24, and Professor Rick Underwood provided an Ethics Update on June 25.

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