NYSBA Ethics Opinion 04

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #4 – 11/19/1964 (4-64)

Topic: Communications with Opposing Party. Negotiations with Lay Adjuster.
Digest: Not improper for lawyer to negotiate with agent of opposing party who is a layman.
Canon: None

QUESTION

May an attorney for a claimant discuss the legal aspects of liability with a lay adjuster for the defendant’s insurance company?

OPINION

The Committee does not answer questions of law, and would not pass on the question of whether the lay adjuster is engaged in the unlawful practice of law. Assuming the employment of a lay adjuster is not illegal; we see nothing improper in an attorney for a claimant entering into negotiations with the adjuster, even where the negotiations include discussion of the legal aspects of liability. The claimant’s attorney cannot be criticized for dealing with a lay adjuster who is the chosen agent  of  the insurance company and who also has apparent authority to act for the insured, Compare Opinions Nos, 185 (1931) and 473 (1939) of the Committee on Professional Ethics, The Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

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