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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.

Many people have contributed time and effort to the project over the years, and we would like to thank them. In particular, Roger Cramton and Peter Martin not only conceived ALEL but gave much of their own labor to it. We are also grateful to Brad Wendel for his editorial contributions, to Brian Toohey and all at Jones Day for their efforts, and to all of our correspondents and contributors. Thank you.

We regret any inconvenience.

Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.

New Jersey Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - Rule 7.3

This is renumbered DR 2-103, which the Court revised and adopted on January 16, 1984, with erroneous cross-references in paragraph (c) deleted. What follows is the comment that accompanied that revision (see 113 N.J.L.J. 91, 92 (1984)).

Solicitation generally is not harmful. For example, lawyers have been and should continue to be permitted to make personal contact (1) if the prospective client is a close friend, relative, former client or one whom the lawyer reasonably believes to be a client; (2) under the auspices of a public or charitable legal services organization; or (3) under the auspices of a bona fide political, social, civic, fraternal, employee or trade organization whose purposes include but are not limited to providing or recommending legal services, if the legal services are related to the principal purposes of the organization.

Similarly, this rule would not prohibit a lawyer from contacting representatives of organizations or groups that may be interested in establishing a group or prepaid legal plan for its 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 the lawyer's firm is willing to offer. This form of communication is not directed to a specific prospective client known to need legal services related to a particular matter. 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. Under these circumstances the actual activity which the lawyer undertakes in communicating with such representatives and the type of information transmitted to the individual can be compared favorably with advertising permitted under RPC 7.2.

Unrestricted solicitation, however, involves definite social harms. Among these are harassment, overreaching, provocation of nuisance litigation and schemes for systematic fabrication of claims, all of which were experienced prior to adoption of restrictions on solicitation. Measures reasonably designed to suppress these harms are constitutionally legitimate. At the same time, measures going beyond realization of such objectives would appear to be invalid under relevant decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

In determining whether a contact is permissible under RPC 7.3(b), it is relevant to consider the time and circumstances under which the contact is initiated. For example, a person undergoing active medical treatment for traumatic injury is unlikely to be in an emotional state in which reasonable judgment about employing a lawyer can be exercised.