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2015 Formal Ethics Opinion 7: Prior Business Relationships Permit In-Person Solicitation

North Carolina State Bar Building Photo Courtesy of the North Carolina State Bar

View the Formal Ethics Opinion in Full Here.

The North Carolina State Bar received a request for an interpretation of Rule 7.3(a) in regards to prior professional relationships.  Generally, Rules 7.3(a) states that lawyers are prohibited from soliciting professional employment from a potential client in-person, by live telephone, or through real-time electronic contact.  However, Rule 7.3(a) contains several exceptions, including a prior professional relationship, which permits the lawyer to directly solicit legal employment in person.

This proposed opinion rules that a business relationship with health care professionals created by a lawyer, when in the lawyer previous worked as a health care consultant, satisfies the prior professional relationship exception under Rule 7.3(a).  Since the reasoning behind the prohibition on in-person solicitation is to prevent undue influence, intimidation, and over-reaching by the lawyer, as mentioned in Comment 2 to Rule 7.3, the likelihood of a lawyer engaging in these abusive practices goes down when the lawyer has a prior professional relationship with the person being contacted.

Ana Hopper, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus
About Ana Hopper, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus (33 Articles)
Ana Hopper is a 2016 Campbell Law graduate and served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Campbell Law Observer for the 2015-2016 academic year. She is originally from Winston-Salem and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology. The summer following her first year of law school, Ana worked as a research assistant for Professor Amy Flanary-Smith. Ana also interned at the Criminal Appellate Section of the Department of Justice her second year, and at the New Hanover District Attorney's Office as an intern the summer before her third year. She served as a Legal Research and Writing Scholar, Vice President of BLSA, and Community Chair of Lambda during her time at Campbell.
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