7. Information About Legal Services
Related Opinions

ER 7.3.     Solicitation of Clients

(a) “Solicitation” or “solicit” denotes a communication initiated by or on behalf of a lawyer or firm that is directed to a specific person the lawyer knows or reasonably should know needs legal services in a particular matter and that offers to provide, or reasonably can be understood as offering to provide, legal services for that matter.
(b) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment by live person-to-person contact when a significant motive for the lawyer's doing so is the lawyer's or firm's pecuniary gain, unless the contact is with a:
     (1) lawyer;
     (2) person who has a family, close personal, or prior business or professional relationship with the lawyer or firm; or
     (3) person who routinely uses for business purposes the type of legal services offered by the lawyer.
(c) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment or knowingly permit solicitation on the lawyer's behalf even when not otherwise prohibited by paragraph (b), if:
     (1) the target of the solicitation has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer; or
     (2) the solicitation involves coercion, duress or harassment.
(d) This Rule does not prohibit communications authorized by law or ordered by a court or other tribunal.
(e) Notwithstanding the prohibitions in this Rule, a lawyer may participate with a prepaid or group legal service plan operated by an organization not owned or directed by the lawyer that uses live person-to-person contact to solicit memberships or subscriptions for the plan from persons who are not known to need legal services in a particular matter covered by the plan.

Comment [2019 Amendment]

[1] A lawyer's communication is not a solicitation if it is directed to the general public, such as through a billboard, an Internet banner advertisement, a website or a television commercial, or if it is in response to a request for information or is automatically generated in response to electronic searches.
[2] “Live person-to-person contact” means in-person, face-to-face, live telephone and other real-time visual or auditory person-to-person communications, where the person is subject to a direct personal encounter without time for reflection. Such person-to-person contact does not include chat rooms, text messages, or other written communications that recipients may easily disregard. A potential for overreaching exists when a lawyer seeking pecuniary gain solicits a person known to be in need of legal services. This form of contact subjects a person to the private importuning of the trained advocate in a direct interpersonal encounter. The person, who may already feel overwhelmed by the circumstances giving rise to the need for legal services, may find it difficult fully to evaluate all available alternatives with reasoned judgment and appropriate self-interest in the face of the lawyer's presence and insistence upon an immediate response. The situation is fraught with the possibility of undue influence, intimidation, and overreaching.
[3] The potential for overreaching inherent in, live person-to-person contact justifies its prohibition, since lawyers have alternative means of conveying necessary information to those who may be in need of legal services. In particular, communications can be mailed or transmitted by email or other electronic means that do not violate other laws. Those forms of communications make it possible for the public to be informed about the need for legal services, and about the qualifications of available lawyers and law firms, without subjecting the public to live person-to-person persuasion that may overwhelm the person's judgment.
[4] The contents of advertisements and communications permitted under ER 7.2 can be permanently recorded so that they cannot be disputed. This potential for informal review is itself likely to help guard against statements and claims that might constitute false and misleading communications, in violation of ER 7.1. The contents of live person-to-person contact can be disputed and may not be subject to third-party scrutiny. Consequently, they are much more likely to approach (and occasionally cross) the dividing line between accurate representations and those that are false and misleading.
[5] There is far less likelihood that a lawyer would engage in overreaching against a former client or a person with whom the lawyer has a close personal, or family, business or professional relationship, or in situations in which the lawyer is motivated by considerations other than the lawyer's pecuniary gain. Nor is there a serious potential for overreaching when the person contacted is a lawyer or is known to routinely use the type of legal services involved for business purposes. Examples include persons who routinely hire outside counsel to represent the entity; entrepreneurs who regularly engage business, employment law or intellectual property lawyers; small business proprietors who routinely hire lawyers for lease or contract issues; and other people who routinely retain lawyers for business transactions or formations. Paragraph (b) is not intended to prohibit a lawyer from participating in constitutionally protected activities of public or charitable legal-service organizations or bona fide political, social, civic, fraternal, employee or trade organizations whose purposes include providing or recommending legal services to their members or beneficiaries.
[6] A solicitation that contains false or misleading information within the meaning of ER 7.1, that involves coercion, duress or harassment within the meaning of ER 7.3(c)(2), or that involves contact with someone who has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer within the meaning of ER 7.3(c)(1) is prohibited. Live, person-to-person contact of individuals who may be especially vulnerable to coercion or duress ordinarily is not appropriate, including, for example, the elderly, disabled, or those whose first language is not English.
[7] This Rule does not prohibit a lawyer from contacting representatives of organizations or groups that may be interested in establishing a group or prepaid legal plan for their members, insureds, beneficiaries or other third parties for the purpose of informing such entities of the availability of and details concerning the plan or arrangement which the lawyer or lawyer's firm is willing to offer. This form of communication is not directed to people who are seeking legal services for themselves. Rather, it is usually addressed to an individual acting in a fiduciary capacity seeking a supplier of legal services for others who may, if they choose, become prospective clients of the lawyer.