Link to original WordPerfect Document

                                         100 N.J.L.J. 1051
                                        November 10, 1977


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Announcements To
Clients of Former Employer

    This inquiry involves DR 2-102(A)(2). By order of the Supreme Court of New Jersey entered July 13, 1977, 100 N.J.L.J. 633 (1977),
the operation of portions of DR 2-102 was "temporarily suspended ... to the extent of conflict with the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Bates v. State Bar of Arsenal," 433 U.S.
350, 53 L. Ed. 2d 810 (1977). The provisions of DR 2-102(A)(2) as here applied do not conflict with Bates.
    The inquirer has withdrawn from his association with another lawyer and has become a sole practitioner. In his first two questions he asks:
            Is it ethical for me to send the enclosed announcement to those clients with whom I had dealt during the course of my previous employment in accordance with DR 2-102(A)(2)?

            If the answer to question #1 is No, is it ethically permissible to send announcements to those 10 clients with whom I have developed a strong personal relationship ... during the course of my prior employment?

    The announcement card, the format of which comports with DR 2-102(A)(2), reads as follows:

        A.B., Attorney at Law, formerly associated with the law offices of C.D., is pleased to announce the opening of his offices for the general practice of law at [giving address and telephone number].

DR 2-102(A)(2) permits such professional announcement cards to be sent to five categories of persons: "lawyers, clients, former clients, personal friends and relatives." To construe the terms "clients" and "former clients" to exclude clients of the former employer with whom the inquirer has dealt would be unduly restrictive. Under Bates, the free flow of unembellished information concerning the availability of the inquirer's legal services as presented by his announcement cannot be so restrained.
    We thus answer the first question in the affirmative. That being so, there is no need to answer the second.
    By his third question, the inquirer asks:
            In the event that those prior clients with whom I have developed a strong personal and professional relationship during the course of my prior employment, approach me and request that I continue handling their cases as their personal attorney, is it ethical to accept said employment?

    This question involves no ethical problem. "It is for the client to decide who shall represent him." Drinker, Legal Ethics, 191 (1953). However, if the client wishes to remain with the lawyer who originally represented him, that, too, is his decision and it would be unethical for a departing attorney to attempt to persuade the client to follow him. See ABA Comm. on Professional Ethics, Informal Opinion 910 (1966).
* * *

This archive is a service of Rutgers University School of Law - Camden