State Bar of Michigan
home member area contact us


 print this page

for members
SBM general information

member directory

admissions, ethics, and

diversity & inclusion

justice initiatives

member services

practice management
   resource center

public policy resource

publications and

research and links

sections & committees

ethics for members
ethics developments
ethics opinions
TAON (trust accounts)

from the courts
opinion searching
virtual court

for the public
public resources
media resources

giving opportunities
a lawyer helps
access to justice

Ethics Opinion

print this page


December 20, 1982


    It is ethical to advertise by direct mail and likewise a lawyer may offer a lower hourly rate to members of certain groups, such as retired persons or magazine subscribers.

    References: CI-688, CI-704, CI-485; C-218.


It is ethical to advertise by direct mail. CI-688, CI-704. It is ethical to send a direct mail advertisement to a particular demographically identifiable group, i.e., persons with income in excess of $50,000 or persons on the mailing list of "XYZ Magazine" in a particular zip code area.

However, as computer retrieval of names and addresses becomes increasingly sophisticated, it is important that lawyers exercise discretion in the use of such specialized mailing lists so as to avoid a direct mail solicitation that is designed to solicit the recipient to become a client in a certain instance of litigation. For example, a direct mailing to those on the mailing list of Diabetic Magazine would be permissible, unless the mailing were concerned with a solicitation to join in a class action lawsuit against a syringe manufacturer. As was opined in C-218:

    "The distinction to be drawn between permissible public communication and improper solicitation does not lie in the mode of communication, but in its content. General communications which tell the public about legal services available, which inform about fees and other costs and about the lawyer's qualifications, and which do not unduly prompt a response, constitute permissible advertising. Communications directed to targeted potential clients with an identified need for particular legal services, framed to elicit a direct response to the attorney-sender, constitute improper solicitation."

It is ethical to offer differing charges for legal services based upon the age of the recipient or any other definable criteria. For example, a lawyer can advertise that a lower rate will be charged retired persons than is charged to persons on a payroll. "A attorney has a constitutionally protected right to render any legal service he is competent to render at any price or without charge so long as he does not overreach." CI-485.



follow us
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on LinkedIn Follow Us on Twitter Follow the SBM Blog


©Copyright 2015

website links
Contact Us
Site Map
Website Privacy Statement PDF
Staff Links

SBM on the Mapcontact information
State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St
Lansing, MI 48933-2012
Phone: (517) 346-6300
Toll Free: (800) 968-1442
Fax: (517) 482-6248