108 N.J.L.J. 523
December 3, 1981
Furnishing Fee Information to
Organization Providing Legal Services to Members
In January 1980 a request for an opinion was submitted by an
attorney. It dealt with the advertisement of fees and the
solicitation of business which are covered by DR 2-101 et seq. It
was the view of the Committee expressed in Opinion 457, 106
N.J.L.J. 98 (1980), that the proposed advertising was designed to
encourage the formation of groups for the purpose of taking
advantage of the fee reductions proposed by the attorney and was,
therefore, improper solicitation rather than permitted advertising.
We have now received an inquiry from the New Jersey State Bar Association which poses essentially the same questions but with a substantially modified factual framework. We believe that the proposal from the Bar Association falls under the heading of advertising rather than solicitation and, therefore, is proper. The Association asks whether a lawyer may provide the information permitted under DR 2-101 (B)(5) to a group or organization which has been formed and registered in compliance with the requirements
of DR 2-103 (D)(4)(a) through (g) which details the requirements
for the formation and registration with the Supreme Court of organizations that recommend, furnish or pay for legal services to its members or beneficiaries. The previous inquiry was directed toward the formation of such organizations and the Committee therefore concluded that the proposed mailings were improper solicitation.
After the United States Supreme Court concluded in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977), that certain advertising was permissible, disciplinary rules both of the American Bar Association and of the various states were amended to comply with the decision. New Jersey's version of these new rules appears for the most part in DR 2-lOl et seq. Included in these rules as a result of the Bates decision is a provision permitting the advertisement of fee schedules under certain circumstances.
In our Opinion 468, 107 N.J.L.J. 10 (1981), we approved direct mail advertising by lawyers addressed generally to the public provided the requirements of DR 2-101 are met. Since this rule permits the statement of fees which would be charged, we see no propriety in the lawyer's addressing a letter to organizations properly formed and registered under DR 2-103 (D). So long as the provisions of DR 2-101(B)(5) are complied with, we are of the opinion such a mailing constitutes proper advertising and not improper solicitation.