New Hampshire Bar Association Opinion #2012-13/05


What measures may a lawyer take to investigate a witness through the witness’s social media accounts, such as Facebook or Twitter, regarding a matter which is, or is likely to be, in litigation?”


Summary of the Committee:

“The Rules of Professional Conduct do not forbid use of social media to investigate a non-party witness. However, the lawyer must follow the same rules which would apply in other contexts, including the rules which impose duties of truthfulness, fairness, and respect for the rights of third parties. The lawyer must take care to understand both the value and the risk of using social media sites, as their ease of access on the internet is accompanied by a risk of unintended or misleading communications with the witness. The Committee notes a split of authority on the issue of whether a lawyer may send a social media request which discloses the lawyer’s name – but not the lawyer’s identity and role in pending litigation – to a witness who might not recognize the name and who might otherwise deny the request. The Committee finds that such a request is improper because it omits material information. The likely purpose is to deceive the witness into accepting the request and providing information which the witness would not provide if the full identity and role of the lawyer were known.”


1.1(b) and (c) Competence

1.3 Diligence

3.4 Fairness to opposing party and counsel

4.1(a) Truthfulness in statements to others

4.2 Communications with others represented by counsel

4.3 Dealing with the unrepresented person

4.4 Respect for the rights of third persons

5.3 Non-lawyer assistants

8.4(a) Unethical conduct through an agent


The full text is available at…