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Rule 7.3: Direct Contact With Prospective Clients


Adopted, Effective Jan. 1, 2008

Rule 7.3 Direct Contact With Prospective Clients

 (a) A lawyer shall not initiate, by in-person, live voice, recorded or other real-time means, contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining professional employment, unless the person contacted:

     (1) is a lawyer;

     (2) has a family, close personal, or prior professional relationship with the lawyer;

     (3) is an employee, agent, or representative of a business, non-profit or governmental  organization not known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter, and the lawyer seeks to provide services on behalf of the organization;  or

    (4)  is an individual who regularly requires legal services in a commercial context and is not known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter.

(b) A lawyer shall not communicate or knowingly permit any communication to a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining professional employment if:

     (1) the prospective client has made known to the lawyer a desire not to receive communications from the lawyer;

     (2) the communication involves coercion, duress or harassment; or

     (3) the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the physical, mental, or emotional state of the prospective client is such that there is a substantial potential that the person cannot exercise reasonable judgment in employing a lawyer.

(c) Every written, recorded or electronic communication from a lawyer soliciting professional employment from a prospective client known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter shall include the word "Advertising" on the outside envelope, if any, and at the beginning and ending of any recorded or electronic communication, unless the recipient of the communication is a person specified in subsection (a). 

(d) The following types of direct contact with prospective clients shall be exempt from subsection (a):

            (i).  participation in a prepaid or group legal service plan operated by an organization not owned or directed by the lawyer that uses in-person, live voice or other real-time contact to solicit memberships or subscriptions for the plan from persons who are not known to need legal services in a particular matter covered by the plan. 

           (ii)     initiation of contact for legal services by a non-profit organization.

           (iii)   contact of those the lawyer is permitted under applicable law to seek to join in litigation in the nature of a class action, if success in asserting rights or defenses of the litigation is dependent upon the joinder of others;  and

           (iv)  Requests by a lawyer or the lawyer’s firm for referrals from a lawyer referral service operated, sponsored or approved by a bar association, or cooperation with any other qualified legal assistance organization.
New Hampshire Comment to Proposed Rule 7.3

New Hampshire Rule 7.3 differs from the Model Rule primarily in that:

1.  It broadens the scope of potentially regulated contact to include initiation of any contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining professional employment.  The occurrence of actual "solicitation" raises evidentiary issues that are not necessary to reach.

2.  It reinstates recorded contact as a regulated conduct, recognizing the growth of interactive recording technologies that may cause the prospective client to feel immediate pressure to respond.

3.  It allows that motivators other than pecuniary gain may account for abusive conduct.

4.  It assumes that entities, or individuals in a commercial context, will generally hold a more favorable balance of sophistication and leverage relative to the lawyer than will individuals acting outside of a commercial context, and so will generally need less protection against the “private importuning of the trained advocate.” However, that balance is assumed to be negated for entities or individuals in a commercial context if they are known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter.  This negation is intended to prohibit such activities as trolling through lists of new lawsuits and contacting defendants to solicit representation in the lawsuit.

5.  Initiation of contact on behalf of class action and non-profit groups enjoy limited exemptions recognizing that such contact may be constitutionally protected.

6.  Participation in a qualified legal services referral program is exempted.


Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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