NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONProfessional
Ethics Committee Opinion
Opinion #4 – 11/19/1964
Topic: Communications with Opposing Party. Negotiations with Lay
Digest: Not improper for lawyer to negotiate with agent of opposing
party who is a layman.
May an attorney for a claimant discuss the legal aspects of liability
with a lay adjuster for the defendant's insurance company?
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.