Legal Ethics Opinion No. 1480

Advertising and Solicitation: Law Firm's Solicitation of Medical 

You have presented a hypothetical situation in which a law firm
represents many medical providers regularly in their business and
personal affairs.  The firm also handles personal injury cases
involving clients who are treated for their injuries by many of
the same medical providers. You state that, in an effort to limit
any potential conflicts of interest between the medical provider
clients and the personal injury clients, the firm advises its
personal injury clients during the initial consultation of the
following: (1) that it represents most of the medical providers
in the community; (2) that a medical provider can claim a lien in
a portion of the settlement proceeds up to a statutory maximum
but that the law does not require an attorney to make any
payments to the medical providers out of the settlement proceeds
beyond the statutory lien amounts; (3) that because it represents
many of the medical providers, the firm only accepts personal
injury cases in which the client agrees, in advance, that all of
the medical providers will be paid in full for their services
rendered to the personal injury client as a result of the
personal injury to the extent that settlement proceeds are
available for payment of these bills; (4) that the firm is not
required to do this by law, and that other attorneys handling
personal injury cases may not make this a condition of
representation, and (5) that if the potential personal injury
client is in agreement with this medical bill arrangement, he
must sign a document authorizing the firm to pay all medical
bills from the proceeds to the extent of such proceeds.

You further state that the firm has never had a client refuse to
grant the authorization and that it believes that most clients
want to pay their medical bills.  You also state that most of the
firm's medical provider clients are unaware of the arrangement
with the firm's personal injury clients.

You indicate that the firm wishes to prepare a letter to its
medical provider clients and to all other medical providers in
the community advising them of the firm's practice of only
accepting personal injury cases where the client agrees, in
advance and in writing, to allow the firm to pay all outstanding
medical bills related to the accident out of the settlement or
trial proceeds to the extent that such proceeds are available and
without regard to the lien amount.  The proposed letter  would
also indicate that such bills would be paid from proceeds before
any money is delivered to the personal injury client.  Finally,
the proposed letter would also state the firm's policy of
attempting to give a medical provider thirty days notice prior to
a summons or subpoena for his testimony.  

You have asked the committee to opine whether, under the facts of
the inquiry, the letter is proper as to (1) the firm's current
medical provider clients and (2) non-client medical providers. 

The appropriate and controlling Disciplinary Rule related to your
inquiry is DR 2-101(A) which states that a lawyer shall not
participate in the use of any form of public communication if
such communication contains a false, fraudulent, misleading or
deceptive statement or claim. 

The committee believes that your inquiry as to the mailing
involves primarily an issue of solicitation.  The committee has
previously opined that a solicitation letter is not improper,
provided that it complies with Disciplinary Rules 2-101(A) and
(B).  See LEOs #862, #904, #1001; see also Shapero v. Kentucky
Bar Ass'n, 486 U.S. 466 (l988). 

The committee views the letter's transmittal to the firm's
current medical provider clients as normal and open communication
essential to the attorney-client relationship and therefore not
improper under the Code of Professional Responsibility. 
Regarding the propriety of the letter as to non-client medical
providers, the committee opines that the solicitation letter is
not improper, as long as it does not make any false, fraudulent,
misleading, or deceptive claims. The committee is without facts
to enable it to opine whether or not the soliciting firm has made
any such improper claims.

Although the committee cautions that the firm's simultaneous
representation of personal injury clients and medical service
providers may raise questions as to potential conflicts of
interest, you requested that the committee opine solely as to the
propriety of the proposed letter.  Therefore, the committee is
specifically not opining as to any issues related to multiple

Committee Opinion
August 24, 1992