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RULE 19-304.3. DEALING WITH UNREPRESENTED PERSON (4.3)

West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland Rules

West's Annotated Code of Maryland
Maryland Rules
Title 19. Attorneys
Chapter 300. Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct
Transactions with Persons Other than Clients [Rules 19-304.1 to 19-304.4]
MD Rules Attorneys, Rule 19-304.3
RULE 19-304.3. DEALING WITH UNREPRESENTED PERSON (4.3)
An attorney, in dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by an attorney, shall not state or imply that the attorney is disinterested. When the attorney knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the attorney's role in the matter, the attorney shall make reasonable efforts to correct the misunderstanding.
COMMENT
[1] An unrepresented person, particularly one not experienced in dealing with legal matters, might assume that an attorney is disinterested in loyalties or is a disinterested authority on the law even when the attorney represents a client. In order to avoid a misunderstanding, an attorney will typically need to identify the attorney's client and, where necessary, explain that the client has interests opposed to those of the unrepresented person. For misunderstandings that sometimes arise when an attorney for an organization deals with an unrepresented constituent, see Rule 19-301.13 (d) (1.13).
[2] An attorney should not give legal advice to an unrepresented person, other than the advice to secure an attorney, if the attorney 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. This distinguishes between situations involving unrepresented persons whose interests may be adverse to those of the attorney'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 attorney will compromise the unrepresented person's interests is so great that the attorney should not give any advice, apart from the advice to obtain an attorney. Whether an attorney 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 an attorney from negotiating the terms of a transaction or settling a dispute with an unrepresented person. So long as the attorney has explained that the attorney represents an adverse party and is not representing the person, the attorney may inform the person of the terms on which the attorney's client will enter into an agreement or settle a matter, prepare documents that require the person's signature and explain the attorney's own view of the meaning of the document or the attorney's view of the underlying legal obligations.
Model Rules Comparison: Rule 19-304.3 (4.3) has been rewritten to retain elements of existing Maryland language, to incorporate some changes from the Ethics 2000 Amendments to the ABA Model Rules, and to incorporate further revisions.

Credits

[Adopted eff. July 1, 2016.]
MD R Attorneys, Rule 19-304.3, MD R ATTORNEYS Rule 19-304.3
Current with amendments received through June 15, 2020.
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