Professional Guidance Committee
Opinion 93-4
(May 1993)

You have advised the Committee that you are planning on leaving your employment and making a transition into your own private solo practice. As part of that plan, in your effort to build a client base, you propose to do a targeted direct mailing to members of your church, many of whom you do not personally know. You ask if you may 1) send the mailing and 2) if its content is proper under the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3a provides that:

A lawyer shall not solicit in-person or by intermediary professional employment from a prospective client with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship when a significant motive for the lawyer's doing so is the lawyer's pecuniary gain. The term "solicit" includes contact in person or by telephone, but subject to the requirement of Rule 7.1 and 7.3(b) does not include written communication, which may include targeted direct mail advertisements.

Rule 7.1 governs the content of advertisements and provides that lawyer cannot make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or his services. Rule 7.3b prohibits targeted direct mail solicitation when the recipient's physical, emotional or mental state precludes him or her from exercising sound judgment about hiring a lawyer, the person has specifically advised that he or she does not want to receive the solicitation or the communication involves coercion, duress or harassment.

The Committee has reviewed your proposed targeted mailing and advises that it sees nothing improper in either the content of the ad, or in your mailing it to the group describe. Please note however, that as an attorney you must provide competent representation to clients, as required by Rule 1.1 If you are advertising various types of problems that you are willing to help clients with, you must be sure that you are competent to handle the task you are hired for.

CAVEAT: The foregoing opinion is advisory only and is based upon the facts set forth above. The opinion is not binding upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or any other Court. It carries only such weight as an appropriate reviewing authority may choose to give it.

The Philadelphia Bar Association's Professional Guidance Committee provides, upon request, advice for lawyers facing or anticipating facing ethical dilemmas. Advice is based on the consideration of the facts of the particular inquirer's situation and the Rules of Professional Conduct as promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Committee's opinions are advisory only and are based upon the facts set forth. The opinions are not binding upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or any other Court. They carry only such weight as an appropriate reviewing authority may choose to give it.