Link to original WordPerfect Document
110 N.J.L.J. 408
October 7, 1982
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court
Advertising of Prepaid Legal
Services; Relaxation of
Restrictions of Prior Opinion 488
Over the past several years we have received several inquiries
relating to prepaid legal services. In recent years the nature of
these inquiries has changed because of the elimination of the total
proscription of advertising by attorneys. Before stating the
questions now presented to us it may be helpful to review some of
these prior opinions.
In 1976, before the advent of advertising, we issued Opinion
335, 99 N.J.L.J. 588. This opinion dealt with DR 2-103 and in
particular with DR 2-103 (D)(4)(b). The opinion referred to the
notice from the Clerk of the Supreme Court cautioning members of
the Bar that an attorney who participates in advising or assisting
groups in establishing a prepaid legal services plan, which
ultimately results in his becoming counsel to the group, might be
acting improperly under DR 2-103. Specifically the opinion refers
to Subsection (b) which prohibits a lawyer from acting as counsel
to the group where he has initiated or promoted the organization.
We concluded that he could represent the group if he furnished
legal services to the group in establishing a plan but only if such
services were furnished at the request of the group.
In Opinion 383, 100 N.J.L.J. 1205 (1977), we approved
participation by an attorney in a nationwide group legal services
plan provided the plan was properly registered in accordance with
the provisions of DR 2-103(D)(4).
In Opinion 455, 105 N.J.L.J. 441 (1980), we approved a legal
services financing plan sponsored by the New Jersey State Bar
Foundation and in the process reversed our Opinions 115 and 180
holding to the contrary.
In Opinion 488, 108 N.J.L.J. 523 (1981), we approved the
dissemination of information permitted under DR 2-101(B)(5) to
groups or organizations formed and registered in compliance with
the requirements of DR 2-103 (D)(4).
With respect to the form of advertising we held in Opinion
468, 107 N.J.L.J. 10 (1981), that "letters by attorneys advertising
the availability of their services addressed generally to a segment
of the population with which the lawyers have no personal
acquaintance are not proscribed where they are not false,
misleading, undignified or champertous".
The inquiry now before us is in two parts as follows:
1. May a lawyer advertise in print
media the information permitted in
DR 2-101, describing the legal
services he will perform for members
of an organization or group existing
in compliance with DR 2-103 (D) (4)
(a) through (f), providing such
organization shall first comply with
DR 2-103 (D) (4)(g)?
2. May a lawyer make the same
information described above
available by direct mail to
organizations or groups known by him
to exist in compliance with DR 2-103
(D) (4)(a) through (f), providing
such organization will also comply
with DR 2-103 (D) (4)(g)?
The answer to Question 1 has already been provided by our
Opinions 468 and 488 referred to above and is in the affirmative.
As to Question 2, we now believe that our Opinion 488 was too
restrictive and that an attorney may properly make such information
available directly to groups with prepaid legal services plans
already in existence in compliance with Disciplinary Rules
providing such organizations will also comply with the requirements
of registration with the Supreme Court.
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