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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79-Communicating with a Governmental Adversary

Lawyers may communicate ex parte with “a narrow subset of government officials” – as long as “the communication is made for the purpose of addressing a policy issue, and the government official being addressed has the ability or authority to take or recommend government action, or otherwise effectuate government policy on the issue.” This freedom does not depend on whether the government official is in the “control group” or not (which governs non-governmental contexts), but rather whether the communication is “authorized by law” (such as “a citizen’s right to petition a legislative body). Absent some applicable exception, lawyers “may not communicate with a represented government official solely for the purposes of gathering evidence.” There is no need for the communicating lawyer to alert the government’s lawyer about such ex parte communications with government officials.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn