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Ethics Opinion

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CI-814

October 29, 1982

SYLLABUS

    A lawyer may engage in direct advertising so long as the communication is not false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive and is not directed to potential clients having an identified need for legal services.

    Where a lawyer sends direct mail advertising of the availability of legal services and fixed prices for the services listed, the lawyer is obligated to maintain those listed prices until the addressees are furnished with written notice of a change in the price structure, unless the initial advertisement is specifically limited as to the time the services are offered at the price stated.

    References: C-218; CI-774; Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 US 350 (1977); Supreme Court Admin Order 1978-4.

TEXT

A lawyer proposes to send a letter for advertising purposes containing substantially this information:

    "As a response to this area's sluggish economy and hopefully a small stimulus to that economy, this office has reduced flat rate fees on the below listed services. Price decreases effective immediately until further notice.

    Warranty Deed
    Title Insurance."

The lawyer would send this letter to all real estate brokers and all financial institutions in this area. This advertising letter is simply to advise these brokers and bankers of the price decrease and hopefully, they in turn, will pass this information along to their customers. The lawyer woudl not receive any direct work from the real estate people or bankers themselves; they simply are a referral service of sorts.

The subject matter of your request clearly falls within the area of "legal advertising." The truthful advertising of legal services is protected by the United State Constitution, Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433, US 350, 53 L Ed 2d 810, 97 S Ct 2691 (1977).

Michigan Supreme Court in Administrative Order 1978-4 has provided:

    "A lawyer may, on behalf of himself, his partner or his associate, or any other lawyer affiliated with him or his firm use or participate in the use of any form of public communication that is not false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive. Except for DR 2-103 and DR 2-104, Disciplinary Rules in conflict with this Order are suspended for a period of one year."

By subsequent Administrative Order 1979-7, the Michigan Supreme Court has continued this Order "until further Order of the Court."

C-218 and CI-774 are on point. The proposed course of action does not violate the prohibition against direct advertising to those potential clients with an identified need for legal services provided, however, that the lawyer maintains the prices stated in the advertisement until such time the lawyer advise those addressees with a written notice of change unless the initial advertisement is specifically limited as to the time the services are offered at the price stated.

 
     

 

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