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                                         110 N.J.L.J. 408
                                        October 7, 1982


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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