By: BridgeTower Media Newswires//July 19, 2011
By: BridgeTower Media Newswires//July 19, 2011//
A lawyer would violate professional rules of conduct by “friending” certain high-level employees of an opposing party in a client’s employment dispute, a California ethics committee has concluded in an advisory opinion.
Under the scenario addressed by the committee, a lawyer who represented a client suing for wrongful discharge learned that certain high-level employees of the former employer might have disparaging things to say about the company.
In an apparent effort to elicit critical comments, the lawyer submitted “friend” requests to the employees’ Facebook pages.
But the committee concluded that such contacts would violate California rules of conduct generally prohibiting an attorney from communicating with an opposing party who is represented by counsel.
“An attorney’s ex parte communication to a represented party intended to elicit information about the subject matter of the representation is impermissible no matter what words are used in the communication and no matter how that communication is transmitted to the represented party,” the committee said.
It further concluded that “the attorney’s duty not to deceive prohibits him from making a friend request even of unrepresented witnesses without disclosing the purpose of the request. Represented parties shouldn’t have ‘friends’ like that and no one — represented or not, party or non-party — should be misled into accepting such a friendship.”
San Diego County Bar Legal Ethics Committee. Ethics Opinion 2011-2. May 24.