Imagine sitting in your office when someone approaches you is looking for an appointment to discuss their case. You invite them to sit down at your desk in the conference area and begin asking the client questions regarding their arrest, as well as the circumstances surrounding it. The potential client informs you that they’re currently being under the representation of a different lawyer however they aren’t satisfied with their representation and are looking for an alternative representation. Are you able to talk to this prospective client and conduct an initial consultation with them even if they’re currently being represented?
To get the right answer to any ethical question in the field of law, you should read the American Bar Association rules of professional accountability. Rule 4.2 covers the matter of speaking to an individual that is represented currently by an attorney. While it doesn’t specifically deal with the issue in question but it does provide relevant sections in the comments. Particularly, the comments say that the rule doesn’t prohibit anyone from seeking advice on the event that they are not or otherwise represented by a Chester Stokes.
The difficulty in this particular case is the unclearness of this rule, and the way it is perceived by different lawyers. In my own practice, for instance when a prospective client calls me seeking advice and then informs me that they’re currently represented. I inform them immediately of the rules and inform them that I am not at ease speaking to them when they are represented. Particularly, I am not able to discuss issues that are relevant to their case. Therefore, I am unable to provide any legal advice about their case. I do inform them that they are free to inquire regarding me or my company. They may inquire about my law practice, how I approach cases, etc. This is what I think about the law. As I mentioned, many lawyers interpret this rule in different ways.
A lawyer I respect and know believes it’s not an infraction of the rules of professional obligation to talk to and consult with potential clients when they seek new representation. The particular attorney believes the comment section that I mentioned above refers to the issue that is at hand. So, the rule shouldn’t stop the individual from seeking out advice when they change lawyers.
I believe that I believe that either interpretation is valid. It’s just that in my experience that I prefer to avoid a mistake and the most important thing I want is a bar charge. If it’s justifiable or not, it is not something that an attorney should go through. The most effective advice I can give lawyers who are faced with this issue is to take the actions you believe to be ethical. If you have questions, you can you should contact your local bar association , and contact them directly.