Opinion 93-19
(November 1993)

You have asked the Committee to render an opinion to you on the following circumstances. You are a law school graduate, awaiting results of the Bar examination. You are a pro se litigant in a matter on appeal. You have been requested by the appellees not to communicate with them directly, but rather only through their counsel. Their counsel has refused to speak with you because you are unrepresented. You ask for guidance as to with whom you may speak, and who may speak with you.

The Committee does not opine on the conduct of other attorneys. As such, this opinion will not address whether opposing counsel may speak with you.

Normally, there is no prohibition against parties to a lawsuit speaking directly with each other. It is recognized that to forbid such contact would shut off the possibility of parties coming to a settlement of their dispute through such contact. Normally, a request such as that made by the appellees not to communicate directly with them could be ignored with impunity, and continued attempts for direct contact could be made. However, you are in a unique situation in that you are a law school graduate awaiting admission to the Bar. Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2 prohibits an attorney from communicating with an adverse party who is represented by counsel, without the prior consent of counsel. Although the Rules of Professional Conduct do not yet apply to your conduct, should you continue to attempt direct contact with the appellees, the Committee believes this might be regarded as reflecting negatively on your character and fitness to practice law as it would be a violation of the Rule were you an attorney. Given this, it would be advisable not to attempt direct communication with the appellees unless you have the consent of their counsel to do so.

You may continue to attempt contact with adverse counsel in an attempt to settle this matter. If your attempts are not successful, the matter will have to be resolved in due time by working its way through the court system.

The Philadelphia Bar Association's Professional Guidance Committee provides, upon request, advice for lawyers facing or anticipating facing ethical dilemmas. Advice is based on the consideration of the facts of the particular inquirer's situation and the Rules of Professional Conduct as promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Committee's opinions are advisory only and are based upon the facts set forth. The opinions are not binding upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or any other Court. They carry only such weight as an appropriate reviewing authority may choose to give it.