Inside Track: Ethical dilemmas: Can counsel contact former employees?:

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    April 18, 2012 – Ethical dilemmas affect every lawyer’s practice. This series presents the most frequently asked questions received by State Bar Ethics Counsel Tim Pierce.


    I am suing a financial services company, alleging fraudulent acts by a broker. The broker’s manager left the company two months ago to take a job with a different company. Can I have my investigator contact the broker’s former manager?


    Yes. SCR 20:4.2 does not cover former employees regardless of the position once held with the company. Comment [7] to SCR 20:4.2 makes plain that the rule does not apply to former employees.

    References: SCR 20:4.2, SCR 20:4.3, SCR 20:4.4; State Bar of Wisconsin Formal Opinion E-07-01; and ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 91-359; Clark v. Beverly Health and Rehabilitation Services, Inc., 440 Mass 270, 797 N.E.2d 905 (2003), Continental Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (Commercial Bldg. Maint. Co.), 32 Cal. App. 4th 94, 37 Cal. Rptr. 843 (1995), Niesig v. Team I, 76 N.Y.2d. 363, 559N.Y.S.2d. 493 (1990).

    For guidance and help in resolving questions regarding Wisconsin’s Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys, visit the Ethics webpage on WisBar.

    About the ethical dilemmas series

    This series of questions and answers appears each month in InsideTrack. The answers are intended to provide guidance only and are not legal authority. Each situation will depend on the facts and circumstances involved.

    For more information, visit the Ethics webpage on WisBar, org tpierce wisbar email Pierce, or call him at (608) 250-6168 or (800) 444-9404, ext. 6168, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.