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Public Appearances and Statements

Both lawyers and paralegals may communicate information to the media and make public statements or appearances, provided that there is no infringement of their obligations to the client, the profession, the courts, or the administration of justice. However, a lawyer or paralegal is prohibited from such communications about a client matter that is before the court, if he or she knows or ought to know that the information or statement will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing a party's right to a fair trial or hearing (rules 7.5-1 and 7.5-2 of the lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct (lawyers' Rules) and subrules 6.01(4) and (4.1) of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct (Paralegal Rules).

Prior to making any public statement regarding a client's matter, you should evaluate whether the statement is likely to materially prejudice any party's right to a fair trial, including that of your client. You must satisfy yourself that the communication is in your client's best interest and is within the scope of your retainer. You cannot use information regarding the client for any purpose not authorized by the client, even in cases where the information is not confidential. If you prefer your interests to those of your client, you will be in a conflict of interest (rules 3.3-1 and 3.4-1 of the lawyers' Rules; subrules 3.03(1) and 3.04(1) of the Paralegal Rules).

Before making any public statement on the client's behalf, you should inform the client of the potential advantages and drawbacks of doing so. The commentary to rule 7.5-1[7] of the lawyers' Rules reminds lawyers that, ordinarily, they will have no control over any subsequent editing of any statements made to the media. Paralegals should also take this into consideration. In this case, the context in which your communication may be used or how it may appear is beyond your control. If your client wishes you to proceed with a public statement concerning the client's affairs, ensure that you and your client agree on the scope of the information to be revealed. Consider preparing a script and reviewing this with the client. To ensure no misunderstanding, you should obtain or confirm the client's instructions in writing.

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