If a client retains an attorney, silence is golden when communicating with opposing counsel. Clients must respect that boundary and avoid speaking directly to opposing counsel about their case. Why?

  • An Attorney Cannot Speak to the Talkative Opposing Client about their Case. In Washington, Rule of Professional Conduct (RPC) 4.2 prohibits an attorney from communicating directly with a person represented by a lawyer unless authorized by the court or the attorney of the represented person to communicate directly with them. The rule states, “In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized to do so by law or a court order.” Comment 3 to RPC 4.2 further provides, “The Rule applies even though the person represented by a lawyer initiates or consents to the communication.”
  • Lawyers are well aware of this rule and that they may face disciplinary proceedings if it is violated. When an attorney receives direct communication from an opposing client, that attorney typically will reach out to opposing counsel to request that the attorney instruct her client to cease these communications immediately. Then, the client’s attorney will spend billable time instructing the client accordingly.
  • The Attorney Representing the Talkative Client May Withdraw. If the attorney instructs their client not to speak to opposing counsel, but the client does it anyway, the attorney may respond by withdrawing from representation because the talkative client has demonstrated that they are not receptive to their attorney’s advice. The talkative client will need to find a new attorney and pay that attorney to review the file and get up to speed on the case.
  • The Talkative Client May Hurt His Case. A client retains an attorney to represent him. When a client who may not understand the legal significance of his words communicates directly with an opposing attorney, the client runs the risk of those communications damaging his case. If these communications are revealed to the court, it causes the client to appear to be at best confused and at worst unhinged, neither of which benefits the client’s position.

If you find yourself face to face with an attorney who represents an opposing party in a case, it’s best to keep your communications to “Hello.” If anything else is needed, let your lawyer do the talking.

This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.

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