Direct mail marketing is a proven and cost effective marketing strategy, but is it compliant with Missouri Bar Association guidelines for professional conduct?
Obviously getting your information into the hands of those who have had a new filing in court is one of the best ways to grow your practice. For all intents and purposes, it’s an excellent way to reach those who need your services immediately. As an example, attorneys that use Courthouse Leads for direct mail marketing and track conversion are seeing 400%+ ROI. But is it compliant with Missouri Bar Association guidelines?
Rule 4-7.3 outlines the requirements for ethical direct mail marketing. We’ve included the full text of Rule 4.73 as well as a sample letter and envelope on this page for your review, but in summary, our letters are compliant for the following reasons:
In addition to abiding by the specific guidelines for the letters themselves, attorneys are required to maintain records for two years of both the letters they’ve sent and the addressees who received them. Courthouse Leads handles the archiving for you, but we’re also happy to send copies if you wish to maintain your own records.
RULE 4-7.3: DIRECT CONTACT WITH PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS
This Rule 4-7.3 applies to in-person and written solicitations by a lawyer with persons known to need legal services of the kind provided by the lawyer in a particular matter for the purpose of obtaining professional employment.
(a) In-person solicitation. A lawyer may not initiate the in-person, telephone, or real time electronic solicitation of legal business under any circumstance, other than with an existing or former client, lawyer, close friend, or relative.
(b) Written Solicitation. A lawyer may initiate written solicitations to an existing or former client, lawyer, friend, or relative without complying with the requirements of this Rule 4-7.3(b).
Written solicitations to others are subject to the following requirements:
(1) any written solicitation by mail shall be plainly marked “ADVERTISEMENT” on the face of the envelope and all written solicitations shall be plainly marked “ADVERTISEMENT” at the top of the first page in type at least as large as the largest written type used in the written solicitation;
(2) the lawyer shall retain a copy of each such written solicitation for two years. If written identical solicitations are sent to two or more prospective clients, the lawyer may comply with this requirement by retaining a single copy together with a list of the names and addresses of persons to whom the written solicitation was sent;
(3) each written solicitation must include the following:“Disregard this solicitation if you have already engaged a lawyer in connection with the legal matter referred to in this solicitation. You may wish to consult your lawyer or another lawyer instead of me (us). The exact nature of your legal situation will depend on many facts not known to me (us) at this time. You should understand that the advice and information in this solicitation is general and that your own situation may vary. This statement is required by rule of the Supreme Court of Missouri;”
(4) written solicitations mailed to prospective clients shall be sent only by regular United States mail, not registered mail or other forms of restricted or certified delivery;
(5) written solicitations mailed to prospective clients shall not be made to resemble legal pleadings or other legal documents;(6) any written solicitation prompted by a specific occurrence involving or affecting the intended recipient of the solicitation or family member shall disclose how the lawyer obtained the information prompting the solicitation;
(7) a written solicitation seeking employment by a specific prospective client in a specific matter shall not reveal on the envelope or on the outside of a self-mailing brochure or pamphlet the nature of the client’s legal problem;
(8) if a lawyer knows that a lawyer other than the lawyer whose name or signature appears on the solicitation will actually handle the case or matter or that the case or matter will be referred to another lawyer or law firm, any written solicitation concerning a specific matter shall include a statement so advising the potential client; and
(9) a lawyer shall not send a written solicitation regarding a specific matter if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the person to whom the solicitation is directed is represented by a lawyer in the matter.