Legal Ethics Opinion No. 1382

Advertising and Solicitation--Confidences and Secrets: Attorney 
and Nonlawyer Insurance Agent Engaging in Presentations on Estate

You have asked the committee to opine as to the propriety of an
arrangement whereby an attorney will contact a number of present
clients and non-client acquaintances for purposes of making
individual presentations in the attorney's office.  The
presentations will cover the need for estate planning, including
wills, living wills and estate preservation.  A securities
broker/insurance agent, who is a friend of the attorney, will
also be present at the meetings and will discuss how life
insurance can be cost effective in preserving estate assets.  At
the close of the presentation, the attorney will ask to set up an
appointment with the intention of beginning to execute an estate
plan.  At that subsequent meeting, the attorney will recommend
types and amounts of life insurance vehicles to be included in
the plan and will advise the client to see a qualified insurance
agent, noting that the previously-present friend is qualified and
will provide a reasonably priced product.

The appropriate and controlling disciplinary rules relative to
the issues you raise are DR 2-l03(A) permitting a lawyer to
conduct in-person communication [solicitation for employment]
provided that the communication is not false, fraudulent,
misleading, or deceptive and further provided that the
communication does not take undue advantage of a potential
client's vulnerability in certain circumstances; DR 3-l02
prohibiting a lawyer from sharing legal fees with a nonlawyer; DR
4-l0l(B)(3) prohibiting a lawyer from using a confidence or
secret of his client for the lawyer's own advantage or for the
advantage of a third person, unless the client consents after
full disclosure; and DR 5-l0l(A) precluding a lawyer from
accepting employment if the exercise of his professional judgment
on behalf of his client may be affected by the lawyer's own
financial, business, property, or personal interests, except with
the consent of the client after full disclosure. 

Further guidance is available in Ethical Consideration 2-9 which
describes circumstances in which in-person solicitation can give
rise to overreaching on the part of the lawyer.  In particular,
the lawyer is cautioned against in-person solicitation directed
to potential clients who, by virtue of inexperience or lack of
sophistication about legal services, are not capable of making
informed decisions during the course of the solicitation.

The Committee has earlier opined that it is not improper for an
attorney to seek representation of an accident victim by
telephone or by in-person communication provided that the
attorney complies with the provisions of DR 2-l03(A).  See LEO
#625.  See also Ohralik v. Ohio State Bar Ass'n, 436 U.S. 447
(l978).  Furthermore, the Committe has also opined that it is not
per se improper for an attorney to offer free estate planning
seminars to the congregations of various churches when the
attorney does not intend to solicit business, but, if
subsequently contacted by church members, would not decline
representation.  See LEO #856.

Of specific relevance is prior Legal Ethics Opinion #834 in which
the Committee opined that it was not improper for an attorney to
refer her legal clients to the attorney's husband, with whom she
shared office space, for financial planning services provided
that the attorney makes full and adequate disclosure to the
clients regarding her personal interest, relationship and
office-sharing arrangements.

In the facts you present, the Committee is of the view that
individual in-person presentations made jointly by the attorney
and the securities broker/insurance agent to prospective clients
would not be per se improper provided that the conduct complies
with the mandates of DR 2-l03(A) and the exhortations of EC 2-9. 
The Committee particularly cautions that the attorney not engage
in overreaching or undue pressure in asking to set up the
subsequent appointment for purposes of executing an estate plan. 
However, the Committee believes that the presence of the
securities broker/insurance agent at meetings with individuals
with whom an attorney-client relationship has been established
would be improper absent the consent of the client after full
disclosure by the attorney as required under DR 4-l0l(C)(l).

The Committee has some concern with your indication that  "[a]t
that next meeting, [in all cases], the attorney will recommend
types and amounts of life insurance vehicles to be included in
the plan."  Clearly, it is  incumbent upon the attorney, as
adviser to the client, to consider the ramifications of each
individual client's situation.  The facts you have presented
indicate a potential for blanket advice and referrals for the use
of life insurance as vehicles for estate planning.  While the
Committee does not presume to address each client's
circumstances, the Committee believes that such a blanket
solution may not appropriately demonstrate the attorney's use of
his independent professional judgment on behalf of each client.  

Finally, the Committee notes that, under the facts you have
stated, the attorney would only advise the client to see a
qualified insurance agent, noting that the previously-present
friend is qualified. 

Committee Opinion
September 13, 1990