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.