Rule 4.3. Dealing with unrepresented person.

(a) In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by a lawyer or licensed paralegal practitioner, a licensed paralegal practitioner shall not state or imply that the licensed paralegal practitioner is disinterested. When the licensed paralegal practitioner knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the licensed paralegal practitionerís role in the matter, the licensed paralegal practitioner shall make reasonable efforts to correct the misunderstanding. The licensed paralegal practitioner shall not give legal advice to an unrepresented person, other than the advice to secure counsel, if the licensed paralegal practitioner knows or reasonably should know that the interests of such a person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interests of the client.

(b) A licensed paralegal practitioner may consider a person, whose representation by counsel in a matter does not encompass all aspects of the matter, to be unrepresented for purposes of this Rule and Rule 4.2, unless that personís counsel has provided written notice to the licensed paralegal practitioner of those aspects of the matter or the time limitation for which the person is represented. Only as to such aspects and time is the person considered to be represented by counsel.

 

Comment

[1] An unrepresented person, particularly one not experienced in dealing with legal matters, might assume that a licensed paralegal practitioner is disinterested in loyalties or is a disinterested authority on the law even when the licensed paralegal practitioner represents a client. In order to avoid a misunderstanding, a licensed paralegal practitioner will typically need to identify his or her client and, where necessary, explain that the client has interests opposed to those of the unrepresented person.

[2] This rule distinguishes between situations involving unrepresented persons whose interests may be adverse to those of the licensed paralegal practitionerís client and those in which the person's interests are not in conflict with the client's. In the former situation, the possibility that the licensed paralegal practitioner will compromise the unrepresented person's interests is so great that this rule prohibits the giving of any advice, apart from the advice to obtain counsel. Whether a licensed paralegal practitioner is giving impermissible advice may depend on the experience and sophistication of the unrepresented person, as well as the setting in which the behavior and comments occur.

[3] Paragraph (b) recognizes that the scope of representation of a person by counsel may, under Rule 1.2, be limited by mutual agreement. Because a lawyer or licensed paralegal practitioner for another party cannot know which of Rule 4.2 or 4.3 applies under these circumstances, a licensed paralegal practitioner who undertakes a limited representation must assume the responsibility for informing another party's lawyer or licensed paralegal practitioner of the limitations. This ensures that such a limited representation will not improperly or unfairly induce an adversary's lawyer or licensed paralegal practitioner to avoid contacting the person on those aspects of a matter for which the person is not represented by counsel. Note that this responsibility on the licensed paralegal practitioner undertaking limited-scope representation also relates to the ability of another party's lawyer or licensed paralegal practitioner to make certain ex parte contacts without violating Rule 4.2.

 

Effective November 1, 2018