Rule 7.3. Solicitation of clients.

(a)  A licensed paralegal practitioner shall not by in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact solicit professional employment from a prospective client when a
significant motive for the licensed paralegal practitioner’s doing so is the licensed paralegal practitioner’s pecuniary gain, unless the person contacted:

(a)(1) is a lawyer or other licensed paralegal practitioner;

(a)(2) has a family, close personal, or prior professional relationship with the licensed paralegal practitioner, or

(a)(3) is unable to make personal contact with a lawyer or licensed paralegal
practitioner and the licensed paralegal practitioner’s contact with the prospective client
has been initiated by a third party on behalf of the prospective client.

(b)  A licensed paralegal practitioner shall not solicit professional employment by
written, recorded or electronic communication or by in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact even when not otherwise prohibited by paragraph (a), if:

(b)(1) the target of the solicitation has made known to the licensed paralegal practitioner a desire not to be solicited by the licensed paralegal practitioner; or

(b)(2) the solicitation involves coercion, duress or harassment.

(c)  Every written, recorded or electronic communication from a licensed paralegal practitioner soliciting professional employment from anyone known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter shall include the words “Advertising Material” on the outside envelope, if any, and at the beginning of any recorded or electronic communication, unless
the recipient of the communication is a person specified in paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2). For
the purposes of this subsection, “written communication” does not include advertisement through public media, including but not limited to a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, outdoor advertising, radio, television or webpage.

(d)  Notwithstanding the prohibitions in paragraph (a), a licensed paralegal practitioner
may participate with a prepaid or group legal service plan operated by an organization not owned or directed by the licensed paralegal practitioner that uses in-person or other real-
time communication to solicit memberships or subscriptions for the plan from persons
who are not known to need legal services in a particular matter covered by the plan.

 

Comment

[1]   A solicitation is a targeted communication initiated by the licensed paralegal practitioner that is directed to a specific person and that offers to provide, or can
reasonably be understood as offering to provide, legal services. In contrast, a licensed paralegal practitioner’s communication typically does not constitute a solicitation if it is directed to the general public, such as through a billboard, an Internet banner
advertisement, a website or a television commercial, or if it is in response to a request for information or is automatically generated in response to Internet searches.

[2]  There is a potential for abuse when a solicitation involves direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact by a licensed paralegal practitioner with someone known to need legal services. These forms of contact subject a person to the private importuning of the trained advocate in a direct interpersonal encounter. The person, who
may already feel overwhelmed by the circumstances giving rise to the need for legal
services, may find it difficult fully to evaluate all available alternatives with reasoned
judgment and appropriate self-interest in the face of the licensed paralegal practitioner's presence and insistence upon being retained immediately. The situation is fraught with the possibility of undue influence, intimidation, and over-reaching.

[3]  This potential for abuse inherent in direct in-person, live telephone or real-time
electronic solicitation justifies its prohibition, particularly since licensed paralegal
practitioners have alternative means of conveying necessary information to those who may
be in need of legal services. In particular, communications can be mailed or transmitted by email or other electronic means that do not involve real-time contact and do not violate
other laws governing solicitations. These forms of communications and solicitations make
it possible for the public to be informed about the need for legal services, and about the qualifications of available licensed paralegal practitioners and law firms, without
subjecting the public to direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic persuasion
that may overwhelm a person’s judgment.

[4]  The use of general advertising and written, recorded or electronic communications
to transmit information from licensed paralegal practitioner to the public, rather than
direct in-person or other real-time communications, will help to ensure that the
information flows cleanly as well as freely. The contents of advertisements and communications permitted under Rule 7.2 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct can be permanently recorded so that they cannot be disputed and
may be shared with others who know the licensed paralegal practitioner. This potential for informal review is itself likely to help guard against statements and claims that might
constitute false and misleading communications in violation of Rule 7.1 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct. The contents of direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact can be disputed and may not be subject to third-
party scrutiny. Consequently, they are much more likely to approach (and occasionally
cross) the dividing line between accurate representations and those that are false and misleading.

[5]   There is far less likelihood that a licensed paralegal practitioner would engage in
abusive practices against a former client, or a person with whom the licensed paralegal practitioner has a close personal or family relationship, or where the licensed paralegal practitioner has been asked by a third party to contact a prospective client who is unable to contact a licensed paralegal practitioner, for example when the prospective client is unable
to place a call, or is mentally incapacitated and unable to appreciate the need for legal
counsel. Nor is there a serious potential for abuse in situations where the licensed paralegal practitioner is motivated by considerations other than the licensed paralegal practitioner's pecuniary gain, or when the person contacted is also a lawyer or a licensed paralegal practitioner. This rule is not intended to prohibit a licensed paralegal practitioner from
applying for employment with. Consequently, the general prohibition in Rule 7.3(a) and the requirements of Rule 7.3(c) of the Licensed Paralegal Professional Rules of Professional Conduct are not applicable in those situations. Also, paragraph (a) is not intended to
prohibit a licensed paralegal practitioner from participating in constitutionally protected
activities of public or charitable legal-service organizations or bona fide political, social,
civic, fraternal, employee or trade organizations whose purposes include providing or recommending legal services to their members or beneficiaries.

[5a] Rule 7.3(a) authorizes in-person or other real-time contact by a licensed paralegal practitioner with a prospective client when that prospective client is unable to make
personal contact with a licensed paralegal practitioner, but a third party initiates contact
with a licensed paralegal practitioner on behalf of the prospective client and the licensed paralegal practitioner then contacts the prospective client.

[6]  But even permitted forms of solicitation can be abused. Thus, any solicitation which contains information that is false or misleading within the meaning of Rule 7.1 of the
Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct, that involves coercion,
duress or harassment within the meaning of Rule 7.3(b)(2) of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct, or that involves contact with someone who has made known to the licensed paralegal practitioner a desire not to be solicited by the
licensed paralegal practitioner within the meaning of Rule 7.3(b)(1) is prohibited.
Moreover, if after sending a letter or other communication as permitted by Rule 7.2 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct the licensed paralegal practitioner receives no response, any further effort to communicate with the recipient of
the communication may violate the provisions of Rule 7.3(b).

[7]   This Rule is not intended to prohibit a licensed paralegal practitioner from
contacting representatives of organizations or groups that may be interested in
establishing a group or prepaid legal plan for their members, insureds, beneficiaries or
other third parties for the purpose of informing such entities of the availability of and the
details concerning the plan or arrangement which the licensed paralegal practitioner or
licensed paralegal practitioner’s firm is willing to offer. This form of communication is not directed to people who are seeking legal services for themselves. Rather, it is usually addressed to an individual acting in a fiduciary capacity seeking a supplier of legal services
for others who may, if they choose, become prospective clients of the licensed paralegal practitioner. Under these circumstances, the activity which the licensed paralegal
practitioner undertakes in communicating with such representatives and the type of
information transmitted to the individual are functionally similar to and serve the same
purpose as advertising permitted under Rule 7.2 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner
Rules of Professional Conduct.

[8]  The requirement in Rule 7.3(c) that certain communications be marked "Advertising Material" does not apply to communications sent in response to requests of potential
clients or their spokespersons or sponsors. General announcements by licensed paralegal practitioners, including changes in personnel or office location, do not constitute communications soliciting professional employment from a client known to be in need of
legal services within the meaning of this Rule.

[9]  Paragraph (d) of this Rule permits a licensed paralegal practitioner to participate
with an organization that uses personal contact to solicit members for its group or prepaid
legal service plan, provided that the personal contact is not undertaken by any licensed paralegal practitioner who would be a provider of legal services through the plan. The organization must not be owned by or directed (whether as manager or otherwise) by any lawyer or law firm that participates in the plan. For example, paragraph (d) would not
permit a licensed paralegal practitioner to create an organization controlled directly or
indirectly by the licensed paralegal practitioner and use the organization for the in-person
or telephone, live person-to-person contacts or other real-time electronic solicitation of
legal employment of the licensed paralegal practitioner through memberships in the plan
or otherwise. The communication permitted by these organizations also must not be
directed to a person known to need legal services in a particular matter, but is to be
designed to inform potential plan members generally of another means of affordable legal services. licensed paralegal practitioners who participate in a legal service plan must reasonably assure that the plan sponsors are in compliance with Rules 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3(b). See Rule 8.4(a) of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct.

 

 

  Effective January 16, 2019