Print Version
Previous PageFile uploaded: 4/3/2012
Rule 4.3

Rule 4.3. Dealing with Unrepresented Person.

(a) In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by counsel, a lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is disinterested. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the lawyer's role in the matter, the lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to correct the misunderstanding. The lawyer shall not give legal advice to an unrepresented person, other than the advice to secure counsel, if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the interests of such a person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interests of the client.

(b) A lawyer may consider a person, whose representation by counsel in a matter does not encompass all aspects of the matter, to be unrepresented for purposes of this Rule and Rule 4.2, unless that person?s counsel has provided written notice to the lawyer of those aspects of the matter or the time limitation for which the person is represented. Only as to such aspects and time is the person considered to be represented by counsel.


[1] An unrepresented person, particularly one not experienced in dealing with legal matters, might assume that a lawyer is disinterested in loyalties or is a disinterested authority on the law even when the lawyer represents a client. In order to avoid a misunderstanding, a lawyer will typically need to identify the lawyer?s client and, where necessary, explain that the client has interests opposed to those of the unrepresented person. For misunderstandings that sometimes arise when a lawyer for an organization deals with an unrepresented constituent, see Rule 1.13(f).

[2] This Rule distinguishes between situations involving unrepresented persons whose interests may be adverse to those of the lawyer's client and those in which the person's interests are not in conflict with the client's. In the former situation, the possibility that the lawyer will compromise the unrepresented person's interests is so great that this Rule prohibits the giving of any advice, apart from the advice to obtain counsel. Whether a lawyer is giving impermissible advice may depend on the experience and sophistication of the unrepresented person, as well as the setting in which the behavior and comments occur. This Rule does not prohibit a lawyer from negotiating the terms of a transaction or settling a dispute with an unrepresented person. So long as the lawyer has explained that the lawyer represents an adverse party and is not representing the person, the lawyer may inform the person of the terms on which the lawyer's client will enter into an agreement or settle a matter, prepare documents that require the person's signature and explain the lawyer's own view of the meaning of the document or the lawyer's view of the underlying legal obligations.

[3] Paragraph (b) recognizes that the scope of representation of a person by counsel may, under Rule 1.2, be limited by mutual agreement. Because a lawyer for another party cannot know which of Rule 4.2 or 4.3 applies under these circumstances, the lawyer who undertakes a limited representation must assume the responsibility for informing another party's lawyer of the limitations. This ensures that such a limited representation will not improperly or unfairly induce an adversary's lawyer to avoid contacting the person on those aspects of a matter for which the person is not represented by counsel. Note that this responsibility on the lawyer undertaking limited-scope representation also relates to the ability of another party's lawyer to make certain ex parte contacts without violating Rule 4.2.

[3a] Utah Rule of Professional Conduct 4.3(b) and related Comment [3] are Utah additions to the ABA Model Rules clarifying that a lawyer may undertake limited representation of a client under the provisions of Rule 1.2.