On January 31, 2013 the Supreme Court of Florida dramatically revamped the states’ rules as they pertain to lawyer advertising. The changes were drastic; the Supreme Court decided comprehensively to strike all existing rules and adopt new ones, complete with new rule numbers. Given our line of work – helping attorneys bring in new clients through direct mail marketing – we stay up to date on changes in ethical requirements of direct mail. We call out a few sections of new Florida regulations that we consider to be legal direct mail best practices:
Is the intended recipient already represented by an attorney? Yes? Then don’t mail to that individual. No (or you don’t know)? It’s best to include the disclaimer below.
Rule 4-7.18 (b)(2)(E): The first sentence of any written communication prompted by a specific occurrence involving or affecting the intended recipient of the communication or a family member must be: “If you have already retained a lawyer for this matter, please disregard this letter.”
Do you expect to refer the case to another lawyer? You should say that.
Rule 4-7.18 (b)(2)(G): If a lawyer other than the lawyer whose name or signature appears on the communication will actually handle the case or matter, or if the case or matter will be referred to another lawyer or law firm, any written communication concerning a specific matter must include a statement so advising the client.
Why are you mailing to a particular individual? If it is because they have been charged with an offense that is public record, then tell them.
Rule 4-7.18 (b)(2)(H): Any written communication prompted by a specific occurrence involving or affecting the intended recipient of the communication or a family member must disclose how the lawyer obtained the information prompting the communication. The disclosure required by this rule must be specific enough to enable the recipient to understand the extent of the lawyer’s knowledge regarding the recipient’s particular situation.