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Lawyers Cannot Communicate with Government Employees About Adverse Legal Matters

On April 8, 2022, the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct (“Board”) issued an advisory opinion, Adv. Op. 2022-03, concluding that in an adverse matter between a lawyer’s client and the government — i.e., there are ongoing or impending legal proceedings — the lawyer is prohibited from directly communicating with government employees or officials: (1) who regularly consult with the government’s legal counsel regarding the matter; (2)  who have the authority to bind the government entity with respect to the matter; or (3) whose acts or omissions in the matter may be imputed to the government. The Board further concluded that a lawyer representing a client in an adverse matter with the government cannot send a formal settlement offer directly to a government employee unless the lawyer has first obtained the consent of the government’s legal counsel.

The Board also explained that a lawyer representing a client may communicate directly with government employees about policy issues as long as the lawyer gives advance notice to the government’s legal counsel before contacting the employee. However, advance notice is not required if the lawyer intends to address the employee at a public meeting.

To read this opinion, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.




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