Appendix 10.A – Communication with Persons Represented by Counsel
The Wyoming Child Support Program must closely monitor communications with a custodial or non-custodial parent represented by an attorney. The Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys at Law provides general standards for lawyers to conduct their professional interactions with the public.
The Child Support Program attorneys within are appointed by the Wyoming Attorney General as Special Attorneys General. Child support attorneys can be held responsible for the conduct of non-lawyers. Therefore, it is extremely important that all district office staff are aware of the rules which cover the communication with represented persons.
Rule 4.2 Communication with person represented by counsel.
“In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person or entity the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized to do so by law or a court order.”
Rule 5.3 Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants
“With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer…
(c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if:
(1) the lawyer orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or
(2) the lawyer is a partner or has comparable managerial authority in the law firm in which the person is employed, or has direct supervisory authority over the person, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.”
Official comments issued by the Wyoming Supreme Court provide guidance, and a comment specific to Rule 4.2 appears to give the Special Attorneys General authority for some communication.
Comment to Rule 4.2
“This Rule does not prohibit communication with a represented person, or an employee or agent of such a person, concerning matters outside the representation. For example, the existence of a controversy between a government agency and a private party, or between two organizations, does not prohibit a lawyer for either from communicating with nonlawyer representatives of the other regarding a separate matter. Nor does this Rule preclude communication with a represented person who is seeking advice from a lawyer who is not otherwise representing a client in the matter. A lawyer may not make a communication prohibited by this Rule through the acts of another. See Rule 8.4(a). Parties to a matter may communicate directly with each other, and a lawyer is not prohibited from advising a client concerning a communication that the client is legally entitled to make. Also, a lawyer having independent justification or legal authorization for communicating with a represented person is permitted to do so.”