Interviewing the Former Employee of an Adverse Corporate Party
Opinion rules that a lawyer may interview an unrepresented former employee of an adverse corporate party without the permission of the corporation's lawyer.
May a lawyer interview an unrepresented former employee of an adverse corporate party without the permission of the corporation's lawyer?
Yes. Rule 7.4(a) prohibits contact only with the party itself. Where the party in question is corporate, the protection of the rules also extends to persons who have the legal power to bind the corporation or who are responsible for implementing the advice of the corporation's lawyer. This is necessary to prevent improvident settlements and similarly major capitulations of legal position on the part of a momentarily uncounseled, but represented, party and to enable the corporation's lawyer to maintain an effective lawyer-client relationship with members of management. The rule is not meant to protect a corporation whose interests might be impaired by factual information willingly shared by a former employee. A former employee is in no sense the alter ego of the corporation and may be interviewed by any interested party regarding relevant matters.