Rule 4.2 Communication with a Person Represented by Counsel

In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized to do so by law or a court order.


[1] This Rule contributes to the proper functioning of the legal system by protecting a person who has chosen to be represented by a lawyer in a matter against possible overreaching by other lawyers who are participating in the matter, interference by those lawyers with the client-lawyer relationship, and the uncounseled disclosure of information relating to the representation.

[2] This Rule applies to communications with any person who is represented by counsel concerning the matter to which the communication relates.

[3] The Rule applies even though the represented person initiates or consents to the communication. A lawyer must immediately terminate communication with a person if, after commencing communication, the lawyer learns that the person is one with whom communication is not permitted by this Rule.

[4] This Rule does not prohibit communication with a represented person, or an employee or agent of such a person, concerning matters outside the representation. For example, the existence of a controversy between a government agency and a private party, or between two organizations, does not prohibit a lawyer for either from communicating with nonlawyer representatives of the other regarding a separate matter, such as additional or different unlawful conduct not within the subject matter of the representation. Nor does this Rule preclude communication with a represented person who is seeking advice from a lawyer who is not otherwise representing a client in the matter. A lawyer may not make a communication prohibited by this Rule through the acts of another. See RPC 8.4(a). Parties to a matter may communicate directly with each other, and a lawyer is not prohibited from advising a client concerning a communication that the client is legally entitled to make. Also, a lawyer having independent justification or legal authorization for communicating with a represented person is permitted to do so.

[5] Communications with represented persons may be authorized by specific constitutional or statutory provisions, by rules governing the conduct of proceedings, by applicable judicial precedent, or by court order. Communications authorized by law, for example, may include communications by a lawyer on behalf of a client who is exercising a constitutional or other legal right to communicate with a governmental official having the power to redress the client’s grievances. By virtue of its exemption of communications authorized by law, this Rule permits a prosecutor or a government lawyer engaged in a criminal or civil law enforcement investigation to communicate with or direct investigative agents to communicate with a represented person prior to the represented person being arrested, indicted, charged, or named as a defendant in a criminal or civil law enforcement proceeding against the represented person. A civil law enforcement investigation is one conducted under the government’s police or regulatory power to enforce the law. Once a represented person has been arrested, indicted, charged, or named as a defendant in a criminal or civil law enforcement proceeding, however, prosecutors and government lawyers must comply with this Rule. A represented person’s waiver of the constitutional right to counsel does not exempt the prosecutor from the duty to comply with this Rule.

[6] A lawyer who is uncertain whether a communication with a represented person is permissible may seek a court order. A lawyer may also seek a court order in exceptional circumstances to authorize a communication that would otherwise be prohibited by this Rule, for example, where communication with a person represented by counsel is necessary to avoid reasonably certain injury.

[7] In the case of a represented organization, this Rule prohibits communications by a lawyer for another person or entity concerning the matter in representation with a member of the governing board, an officer or managerial agent or employee, or an agent or employee who supervises or directs the organization’s lawyer concerning the matter, has authority to contractually obligate the organization with respect to the matter, or otherwise participates substantially in the determination of the organization’s position in the matter. If an agent or employee of an organization is represented in the matter by his or her own counsel, consent by that counsel will be sufficient for purposes of this Rule. Consent of the organization’s lawyer is not required for communication with a former agent or employee. See RPC 4.4 (regarding the lawyer’s duty not to violate the organization’s legal rights by inquiring about information protected by the organization’s attorney-client privilege or as work-product of the organization’s lawyer). In communicating with a current or former agent or employee of an organization, a lawyer shall not solicit or assist in the breach of any duty of confidentiality owed by the agent to the organization. See RPC 4.4.

[8] The prohibition on communications with a represented person only applies in circumstances where the lawyer knows that the person is in fact represented in the matter to be discussed. This means that the lawyer has actual knowledge of the fact of the representation, but such actual knowledge may be inferred from the circumstances. See RPC 1.0(f).

[9] In the event the person with whom the lawyer communicates is not known to be represented by counsel in the matter, the lawyer’s communications are subject to RPC 4.3.

Definitional Cross-References

“Knows” See RPC 1.0(f)


Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8: Rules of Professional Conduct Copyright © 2021 by BirdDog Law, LLC (No copyright claimed as to government works.). All Rights Reserved.