LEO: Advertising and Solicitation - Lawyer  LE Op. 1295


Advertising and Solicitation - Lawyer Referral: Firm Accepting

Employment of Clients Referred by Inmate Acquainted with Firm.


November 21, 1989


You have asked the Committee whether it is proper for a law firm to

accept employment of clients who have potential civil law suits and who

have been referred to the firm as a result of one of the partners of the

firm becoming acquainted with one of the inmates of a specific

correctional facility. You have further indicated that the firm has

neither requested nor solicited such referrals.


The appropriate and controlling rule relative to your inquiry is DR:2-

103(D) which provides in part that a lawyer shall not compensate or give

anything of value to a person or organization to recommend or secure his

employment by a client, or as a reward for having made a recommendation

resulting in his employment by a client, except that he may pay for public

communications as permitted by DR:2-101. Ethical Consideration 2-7 [

EC:2-7] begins by stating that the selection of a lawyer by a layperson

should be made on an informed basis such as the advice and recommendation

of third parties, for example, relatives, friends, acquaintances, business

associates, or other lawyers. However, the ethical consideration also

admonishes that a lawyer should not compensate another person for

recommending him, for influencing a prospective client to employ him, or

for encouraging future recommendations except that he may pay for

advertisements and other public communications or for participation in

legal referral services or lawful prepaid legal service plans, pursuant to

 DR:2-103(D). (See also LE Op. 312, LE Op. 625, LE Op. 1164)


Therefore, the Committee would opine that voluntary recommendations of a

particular law firm made to inmates by an individual who is acquainted

with the firm, when the law firm has neither requested nor solicited such

referrals, and the firm's subsequent acceptance of those cases, is not

improper. Under the facts as you have stated them, the Committee is

assuming that the law firm has not or does not intend to compensate or

give anything of value to that individual for making such recommendation,

and, further, that the recommendation has not been made based on any false,

fraudulent, misleading, deceptive statement or claim ( DR:2-101(A)). It

is currently well established that recommendations for employment of

lawyers made by third parties who are familiar with the lawyer or law firm

are an acceptable and viable method of solicitation which is initiated by

the client.


Committee Opinion November 21, 1989