Rules of Professional Conduct Related Ethical Opinions

7.3  Direct Contact with Prospective Clients


05-08: Internet; Referral Service; Advertising

A lawyer may not pay to participate in the for-profit client/attorney internet matching service described in this opinion (referred to hereinafter as “the Service”) because the Service substantially functions as, and holds itself out as, a referral service and because the information presented by the Service on behalf of participating lawyers is materially misleading.

05-01: Dual Practice; Business Activities; Referral Fees; Advertising; Conflict (W/Dissent)

Under ER 5.7, adopted in December 2003, a lawyer who operates a separate investment advisory business may refer non-clients to an investment advisory firm that pays a referral fee to the lawyer, so long as the lawyer takes reasonable steps to assure that the non-clients understand they are not receiving legal services and they do not have the protections of a lawyer-client relationship.  A lawyer who provides such services to former clients must also comply with the confidentiality requirements and other obligations under ER 1.9, and should take particular care to assure that the former clients understand they do not have a lawyer-client relationship with respect to the investment transactions.  A lawyer may not refer a current client to such a program, however, unless the lawyer meets the "heavy burden" of showing compliance with ER 1.7 and 1.8(a).  Also, a lawyer who provides investment advisory services must satisfy ERs 7.1 through 7.3 and maintain separation between the law practice and the lawyer's investment advisory business so that they do not appear to be related. 

To the extent previous Arizona ethics opinion 98-09 is inconsistent with ER 5.7 and the analysis in this opinion, the earlier opinion is no longer effective.

A dissenting opinion issued contemporaneously by the committee, recommends a per se ban against lawyers accepting money from third-party professionals in exchange for referring law clients to those third-party payors.  However, like the majority, we agree that a lawyer can accept a fee from a third-party professional for referring non-clients to the third-party's firm, provided that the lawyer complies with Rule 5.7.

02-08: Advertising; Solicitation [Overrules Ariz. Op. 91-04]

A lawyer may ethically sponsor a booth at a business exposition and engage in face-to-face contacts with visitors to the exposition, so long as the contact is initiated by the visitor, not the lawyer, in an atmosphere free of coercion and deception, and so long as there is no reason to believe that visitors to the exposition will be characterized by any particular vulnerability. [ER 7.3] [Overrules Ariz. Op. 91-04]

99-14: Withdrawal from Law Firm; Communication with Clients; Advertising and Solicitation

A departing lawyer may contact persons for whom the lawyer has provided legal services while employed by the former firm. The restrictions of ER 7.3(a) do not apply where the lawyer has had significant personal contact with those persons although the content of the communication remains subject to ER 7.1(a) and 7.3(d)(2), (3). Moreover, a solicitation letter sent to former clients is not subject to the requirements of ER 7.3(b), although it must conform to the advertising requirements of ER 7.1. Where the departing lawyer has had significant personal contact with a client in connection with the provision of legal services to that client by the firm, the lawyer has a mandatory duty under ER 1.4 to notify the client of his or her departure. The client must be provided with the opportunity to choose between going with the departing lawyer or remaining with the firm. As noted, there are potential legal issues associated with contacting clients served while employed by the former firm, which are outside the jurisdiction of the Committee, but which should be considered in connection with any communications. [ER 1.4, 5.6, 7.1, 7.3]

98-08: Paralegal; Nonlawyer; Estate Planning; Employees of Lawyer; Initial Interviews

An attorney ethically may contract with a paralegal to have the paralegal assist with conducting initial interviews of and signing of documents by estate planning clients, as long as: 1) the attorney supervises and controls the paralegal’s activities to assure that the paralegal does not engage in the unauthorized practice of law; 2) there is no fee sharing; 3) the initial interviews are only with existing clients; and 4) there is no solicitation of new business by the paralegal. [ER 1.6, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 7.3]

98-03: Advertising and Solicitation; Lawyer Referral Service

This opinion discusses a law firm and a marketing agency entering into a marketing services agreement.  [ERs 7.1, 7.3]         Would the proposed marketing services agreement violate any of the Rules of Professional Conduct?
2.          Do the Rules permit a lawyer to purchase a list of customers from a towing company?

97-04: Computer Technology; Internet; Advertising and Solicitation; Confidentiality

This opinion discusses several ethical issues with respect to lawyers using the Internet to communicate including, for example, confidentiality concerns when sending email to a client, advertising considerations for websites and the applicability of Arizona's Rules of Professional Conduct to communications disseminated from or received in Arizona [ERs 1.6, 1.7, 5.5, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5]

96-10: Advertising; Marketing Director

A law firm ethically may employ, on a salary basis, a marketing director to engage in marketing activities that would otherwise be permissible for lawyer to do directly. [ERs 7.1, 7.3]

95-12: Solicitation; Mailings

There is no specific number of days in which an attorney must wait to send a solicitation letter to a decendent's relative, but the lawyer should consider several factors to decide whether the recipient is likely to exercise reasonable judgment in employing a lawyer. [ER 7.3]

01-94: Advertising

This is a formal opinion of the Advertising Committee of the State Bar of Arizona. This is not an opinion of the Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct.  However, this opinion should be filed with the Formal Opinions of the Ethics Committee because the Advertising Committee was disbanded in January of 1994 and issued only three opinions.

Solicitation letter with proposed attorney contract that would be sent to a “target audience,” reviewed for compliance with rules regarding solicitations sent to individuals with known legal needs. [ER 7.1(a, b, g), ER 7.3(b) and (g)]

92-11: Advertising; Referrals; Solicitation

Personal injury lawyer wishes to obtain customer lists from his company/client, so he can send solicitation letters to the customers.

92-10: Advertising and Solicitation; Seminars

Committee discusses guidelines for attorneys participating in seminars sponsored by the Speakers' Bureau of the State Bar.

92-09: Advertising and Solicitation; Recommendation of Employment

Attorney who owns a collection agency which solicits prospective customers asks whether he may establish an attorney/client relationship with those customers whose collection matters have not been successfully resolved through traditional non-legal collections procedures.

92-05: Advertising; Recommendation of Employment; Seminars

Under facts presented, ethically proper for an attorney to be listed in a labor union's "preferred provider guide", to offer a discount rate, and to give seminar presentations to union members.

91-17: Solicitation

Attorney ending his association with a law firm may send letters to clients he worked with while at the firm, notifying clients of his departure and stating that they are free to choose whether to remain with the firm or to retain him.

91-06: Communications Concerning Services; Advertising

Law firm may mail to members of public a vinyl wallet embossed with law firm's name intended to hold checklist describing what a person should do after being involved in an automobile accident.

91-04: Advertising; Direct Contact with Prospective Clients

Attorney may join and participate in "professional networking group" but may not set up booth at group-sponsored "business exposition."

90-17: Conflict of Interest; Direct Contact with Prospective Clients

Dual representation of workers' compensation carrier and injured workers in prosecution of third party claim; soliciting professional employment from workers on request of carrier.

90-07: Communications Concerning Services; Advertising

Law firm brochure mailed to select group of non-client businesses; publicizing the availability of firm members to speak before such groups; using the services of Welcome Wagonto distribute firm's brochures.

90-08: Communication Concerning Services; Advertising

Announcement letter of attorney who is counsel to governmental agency upon leaving his position to enter private practice.

90-09: Communications Regarding Services; Advertising

Participation in "Bankruptcy Attorneys Trust", a nationwide cooperative television advertising service; misleading title of the service.

90-05: Advertising

Law firm's bi-monthly publication on the subject of Arizona construction law mailed to companies and individuals engaged in construction and construction related activities.

90-04: Advertising

Lawyer publishing and sending professional announcement to other lawyers, present or former clients, friends and relatives.

89-09: Advertising

Committee comments on three proposed targeted, direct mail solicitations.

89-07: Advertising; Firm Name and Letterheads

Lawyer using the slogan "We take the pain out of accidents."

88-07: Communication Concerning a Lawyer's Services; Advertising; Direct Contact with Prospective Clients

Law firm sponsoring legal seminars for clients and non-clients, and mailing brochures to publicize the seminars.

87-23: Professional Independence of Lawyers; Direct Contact with Prospective Clients

Attorney participating with nonlawyer financial planner in presenting seminars for general public on financial planning, estate planning, and probate problems.

87-12: Advertising; Solicitation

Attorney using direct mailing to contact individuals with known legal problems, to inform them that they may have causes of action.

87-07: Conflicts; Solicitation; Pro Bono

Permissible to solicit pro bono employment from prospective indigent client, provided there is no motive for pecuniary gain. Attorney may pay costs of litigation, or request client to pay as much as possible, or receive payment from a third party.

86-01: Advertising; Solicitation; Misrepresentation

Attorney's proposed newspaper advertising seeking representative plaintiff to challenge constitutionality of city's parking ordinance.

85-09: Advertising

Affiliation of in-state and out-of-state of attorneys for the purpose of advertising is permissible as long as the advertising is not false or misleading.