These summaries were prepared by McGuireWoods LLP lawyer Thomas E. Spahn. They are based on the letter opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar. Any editorial comments reflect Mr. Spahn's current personal views, and not the opinions of the Virginia State Bar, McGuireWoods or its clients. 
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57-In-House Lawyers

78-Communicating with an Employee of a Corporate Adversary

Rule 4.2 is designed to protect a person "against possible overreaching by adverse lawyers who are participating in the matter, interference by those lawyers with the client lawyer relationship, and the uncounseled disclosure of information regarding the representation." The protections of Rule 4.2 "are not needed when the constituent of an organization is a lawyer employee of that organization who is acting as a lawyer for that organization," so "inside counsel ordinarily are available for contact by counsel for the opposing party." Adverse counsel can freely contact an in-house lawyer unless: the in-house lawyer is "part of a constituent group of the organization as described in Rule 4.2 Comment [7] as, for example, when the lawyer participating in giving business advice or in making decisions which gave rise to the issues which are in dispute"; the in-house lawyer "is in fact a party in the matter and represented by the same counsel as the organization; "in a rare case adverse counsel is asked not to communicate about a matter with outside counsel." The opinion does not analyze the circumstance in which an in-house lawyer is "simultaneously serving as counsel for an organization in a matter while also being a party to, or having their own independent counsel in, that matter."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn