End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library
As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.
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New Jersey Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct
Comment - Rule 7.2
This is renumbered DR 2-102, which the Court revised and adopted on January 16, 1984. What follows is the comment that accompanied that revision (see 113 N.J.L.J. 91, 91-92 (1984)).
To assist the public in obtaining legal services, lawyers should be allowed to make known their services not only through reputation but also through organized informational campaigns in the form of advertising.
Television is now one of the most important media for getting information to the public, particularly persons of low and moderate income. Prohibiting television advertising, therefore, would impede the flow of information about legal services to many sectors of the public.
Advertising involves an active quest for clients, contrary to the tradition that a lawyer should not seek clientele. However, the public's need to know about legal services can be fulfilled in part through advertising. This need is particularly acute in the case of persons of moderate means who have not made extensive use of legal services. The interest in expanding public information about legal services ought to prevail over considerations of tradition. Nevertheless, advertising by lawyers entails the risk of practices that are misleading or overreaching.
This rule permits public dissemination of information concerning a lawyer's name or firm name, address and telephone number; the kinds of services the lawyer will undertake; the basis on which the lawyer's fees are determined, including prices for specific services and payment and credit arrangements; a lawyer's foreign language ability; names of references and, with their consent, names of clients regularly represented; and other information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance.
Paragraph (a) permits communication by mail to a specific individual as well as general mailings, but does not permit contact by telephone or in- person delivery of written material except through the postal service or similar delivery service.
The rule requires that all advertisements about a lawyer or the lawyer's services be presented in a dignified manner, and prohibits certain modes of presentation such as music, animations, and the like. These devices would add little, if any, consumer-useful information to a communication, and are more likely to attract clients for reasons other than those that are relevant to the selection of appropriate counsel. Any consumer-useful facts that might be conveyed by the use of jingles, lyrics, cartoons and the like can be communicated freely and explicitly via the written and spoken word.
This rule does not prohibit communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class in class action litigation.
Paragraph (b) requires that a record of the content and use of advertising be kept in order to facilitate enforcement of this rule. It does not require that advertising be subject to review prior to dissemination. Such a requirement would be burdensome and expensive relative to its possible benefits, and may be of doubtful constitutionality.
A lawyer is allowed to pay for advertising permitted by this rule, but otherwise is not permitted to pay another person for channeling professional work. This restriction does not prevent an organization or person other than the lawyer from advertising or recommending the lawyer's services. Thus, a legal aid agency or prepaid legal services plan may pay to advertise legal services provided under its auspices. Likewise, a lawyer may participate in not-for-profit lawyer referral programs and pay the usual fees charged by such programs. Paragraph (c) does not prohibit paying regular compensation to an assistant, such as a secretary, or to a public relations firm, to prepare communications permitted by this rule. No payment, however, shall be made to anyone, including a public relations firm, to obtain publicity in news articles or news broadcasts.