114 N.J.L.J. 387
October 11, 1984
Propriety Of Lawyer Conducting
Educational Programs Through A
Corporation For Profit
This inquiry asks whether an attorney may organize and operate a for-profit corporation to provide programs for the public concerning "... the law, the legal process, and intelligent selection of counsel... " Further, it is asked whether it is proper to advertise in print media the names of the attorneys who will participate in educational programs. Finally, the ultimate question is whether attorneys who participate as lecturers may accept employment from individuals in attendance at those lectures.
The past ten years have brought fundamental changes with respect to lawyers' activities in the areas of advertising and, concomitantly, solicitiation. In 1969, this Committee held that lawyer participation in television and radio "call-in" programs was improper under Opinion 148, 92 N.J.L.J. 184 (1969). However, in 1981, guided by the case of Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 437 U.S. 350 (1976) the Committee reconsidered the issue and held that it was not improper for an attorney guest panelist on a television program to answer legal questions asked by members of the audience in Opinion 480, 107 N.J.L.J. 330 (1981). However, the stricture against accepting a retainer and establishing an attorney-client relationship in response to a letter or other communication from a member of the audience was continued.
Revised DR 2-102(A), effective January 16, 1984, provides as follows:
Subject to the requirements of DR 2-101, a lawyer may advertise services through public media, such asatelephone directory, newspaper or other periodical, radio or television, or through mailed written communication. All advertisements shall be presented in a dignified manner ...
DR 2-103** now permits a lawyer to initiate personal contact with a prospective client for the purposes of obtaining employment under specified conditions and limitations. For example, the solicitation must be dignified, may not involve coercion or duress, should not involve solicitation concerning a specific event for pecuniary gain, and otherwise must fit within the permissible activity contemplated by the Disciplinary Rules. The Committee, therefore, concludes that advertisement of the contemplated programs in the print media may be done; further, that attorneys who participate as lecturers may accept employment from individuals in attendance.
However, because of the nature of the proposed activity which, unless carefully carried on, may lead to abuse, the Committee offers the following guidelines which are not intended to be all inclusive.