VSB Standing Committee on Legal Ethics Seeking Public Comment on Legal Ethics Opinion 1870

Download the proposed LEO 1870

Proposed LEO 1870 (PDF file)

Pursuant to Part Six: Section IV, Paragraph 10-2(C) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics (“Committee”) is seeking public comment on proposed advisory Legal Ethics Opinion 1870, Application of Rule 4.2 in Cases where a Guardian Ad Litem has been Appointed to Represent a Child.

This proposed opinion generally addresses whether a child is “represented by” a guardian ad litem (“GAL”) for purposes of Rule 4.2, so that a lawyer for another party may not communicate with the child without the GAL’s consent; whether a GAL representing a child may communicate with a parent or other person represented by a lawyer in the matter; and whether a government lawyer may request or direct social workers to communicate with the minor child represented by a GAL without the GAL’s consent.

In this proposed opinion, the Committee concluded that Rule 4.2 applies when a GAL is appointed to represent a child. Accordingly, other lawyers may not communicate with the child without the GAL’s consent or legal authorization to do so, and a GAL may not communicate with the child’s parents or other represented persons without consent from their lawyers. Because a lawyer may not direct another person to do what the lawyer may not do, a government lawyer may not direct social workers or other investigators to communicate with a child who is represented by a GAL without the GAL’s consent or other legal authorization to do so.

Inspection and Comment

The proposed advisory opinion may be inspected at the office of the Virginia State Bar, 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, Virginia 23219-2800, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Copies of the proposed advisory opinion can be obtained from the offices of the Virginia State Bar by contacting the Office of Ethics Counsel at 804-775-0557, or can be found at the Virginia State Bar’s website at http://www.vsb.org.

Not later than July 3, 2013, any individual, business, or other entity may file or submit to Karen A. Gould, the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, a written comment in support of or in opposition to the proposed advisory opinion.

Updated: May 29, 2013