83-F-49(a) - Vacated*

*Vacated by the Board of Professional Responsibility on September 11, 2015 due to changes in the law or rules.

FORMAL ETHICS OPINION 83-F-49(a)


Inquiry is made for a clarification of Formal Ethics Opinion 83-F-49
relating to conditions and circumstances of distribution and delivery of a
law firm brochure to regular and prospective clients.


Formal Ethics Opinion 83-F-49 states there is no impropriety in producing and
distributing a law firm brochure to regular clients and/or prospective clients upon request
provided the requirements of Disciplinary Rules 2-101(C) and
2-101(M) are strictly followed.
Request has now been made for a clarification of the opinion and, specifically, the
following questions:
(1) May a law firm brochure be distributed to regular clients without any request
being made by these clients?
(2) May a law firm brochure be distributed to prospective clients without any request
being made by these clients?
(3) May a lawyer personally deliver a law firm brochure to regular clients?
(4) May a lawyer personally deliver a law firm brochure to prospective clients?
(5) May a non-lawyer employee of the law firm, at the request of the lawyer,
personally deliver a law firm brochure to regular clients?
(6) May a non-lawyer employee of the law firm, at the request of the lawyer,
personally deliver a law firm brochure to prospective clients?
(7) May a lawyer send a law firm brochure by mail to regular clients?
(8) May a lawyer send a law firm brochure by mail to prospective clients?
(9) How may a law firm brochure be appropriately delivered to regular clients other
than by the methods specified in questions 3, 5 and 7?
83-F-49A Page 2
(10) How may a law firm brochure be appropriately delivered to prospective clients
other than by the methods specified in questions 4, 6 and 8?
In January, 1982, the United States Supreme Court in the case of In Re: R.M.J., 102 S.
Ct. 929, upheld a lawyer's right to mail professional announcement cards to non-clients.
The Court reasoned that communications by mail involve no appreciable invasion of
privacy and may, in fact, be less threatening or intrusive than aggressive multimedia
advertising campaigns. The public can scrutinize letters carefully and recipients can
deliberate and make decisions free from pressures and without being subjected to
coercion, duress or harassment by a lawyer who solicits business personally.
The Tennessee Supreme Court responded to the R.M.J. decision on March 9, 1983 by
amending the publicity rules of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The appropriate
rules relating to the questions raised herein are Disciplinary Rules 2-102(A), 2-101(C)
and 2-101(M), which are cited and quoted in Formal Ethics Opinion 83-F-49.
The intent and thrust of the recent decisions and rule changes are to foster informed
decision making by potential consumers of legal services while safeguarding privacy and
protecting against overreaching by lawyers.
It is appropriate to again state the provisions of Disciplinary Rule 2-101(M):
(M) Lawyers may advertise in established and regularly
published print media and over established
electronic media. Handbills, circulars, direct mail,
or the like may be used, but only if the contents
comply with all requirements that pertain to the
print media, and if the persons who deliver the
handbills, circulars, direct mail, and the like are not
the lawyer or associates or members of the law firm
advertised, and do not engage in solicitation.
Therefore, questions 1, 2, 7 and 8 are answered in the affirmative, provided the
requirements of DR 2-101(C) and 2-101(M) are strictly followed.
Questions 3, 4, 5 and 6 are answered in the negative.
Questions 9 and 10 are answered by reference to DR 2-101(M).
83-F-49A Page 3
This 18th day of January , 1984.
ETHICS COMMITTEE:
O. B. Hofstetter, Jr.
F. Evans Harvill
William R. Willis
APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD