PA Rules of Ethics Revised
While many lawyers feel that Rule 7.3 of the
Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits
selling, the revised version of the rule allows more
flexibility than the previous version.
governs "Direct Contact with Prospective Clients".
The rule prohibits "in-person" and telephone
solicitation of potential new clients. Instant
messaging and solicitation of new clients in
Internet chat rooms are also unethical.
The rationale behind the original ban on
solicitation was that the prospective client was a
lay person in need of legal services at a time of
distress, and not capable of making a rational
decision about hiring a lawyer. Especially when the
lawyer was trained in the art of persuasion, and the
layperson was not. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
recognized that solicitation can be appropriate in
certain situations, as reflected in the changes to
Rule 7.3 adopted in 2003, which allow direct
solicitation of other lawyers, and familial or
Although Rule 7.3 allows for direct solicitation of
business contacts, the rule does not distinguish
between sophisticated corporate buyers of legal
services and the layperson. Such a distinction
should be provided because corporate purchasers of
legal services are accustomed to high level business
transactions. Nonetheless, Rule 7.3 does permit
lawyer to lawyer solicitation or "cold calling".
Lawyers seeking to establish a business relationship
with a corporation may directly contact General
Counsel of the corporation. In addition, networking
and third party introductions are permitted. From a
strategic standpoint, a relationship that begins
with a personal introduction is more likely to
result in a sale than a cold call is anyway.