LEO: Conflict of Interest - Giving Advice to  LE Op. 1019


Conflict of Interest - Giving Advice to Person

Not Represented by a Lawyer.


January 11, 1988


You advise that when insurance companies ask that petitions be brought

before the circuit court to settle personal injury claims for infants,

many times neither the child nor the parents of the child are represented

by counsel. The attorney for the insurance company brings the suit in the

name of the company and their insured. The infant and his parents are made

party defendants. The court appoints a guardian ad litem for the infant.

The attorney for the insurance company then prepares an answer for the

parents to sign, which simply asks the court to look after the best

interests of the child. The parents sign the answer so that they will be

properly represented before the court, and the judge then hears evidence

and either confirms or denies the petition.


You wish to know whether this procedure complies with DR:7-103(A)(2) of

the Code of Professional Responsibility.


Disciplinary Rule 7-103(A)(2) states: "During the course of his

representation, a lawyer shall not give advice to a person who is not

represented by a lawyer, other than the advice to secure counsel, if the

interests of such person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in

conflict with the interests of his client."


The Committee opines that the preparation of the answer by counsel for

the insurance company is providing "advice" under DR:7-103(A)(2).

Accordingly, the Committee believes that it would be improper for counsel

for the insurance company to prepare pleadings or other legal documents

for an infant or his parents for the purpose of settling a personal injury



Committee Opinion January 11, 1988




See also LE Op. 1326.