Illinois State Bar Association Opinion 06-02

ISBA Professional Conduct Advisory Opinion No. 06-02

[This Opinion was AFFIRMED by the Board of Governors in January 2010]

Topics: Law firm use of marketing firm. Lawyer as speaker at community events. Use of non lawyer to screen potential clients.

Digest of the ISBA:

A lawyer is responsible for marketing firm’s conduct that would be in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer, if the lawyer orders or ratifies such conduct.

Marketing firm, retained by a law firm, may distribute advertisements promoting the firm to potential clients through the mail, by posting on electronic bulletin boards and by delivering promotions door-to-door, but it may not have personal contact with the recipients in its distribution of the advertisements.

Law firm aids in the unauthorized practice of law if it permits marketing firm to screen the responses to the advertising and to forward only ‘promising’ responses to the law firm.

Law firm may not compensate marketing firm on any basis related to the fees received by the firm from clients obtained through the marketing firm.

Lawyer may make appearances before civic and similar organizations in an effort to obtain clients.

Law firm may not assign nonlawyer employee to determine whether potential client has a claim.”


Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, Rules 1.6, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4.

Florida Bar v. Went For It, Inc., 515 U.S. 618, 623 115 S. Ct. 2371 (1995).

Shapero v. Kentucky Bar Association, 486 U.S. 466, 108 S. Ct. 1916 (1988).

Zanderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel of Supreme Court of Ohio, 471 U.S. 626, 105 S. Ct. 2265 (1985).

Ohralik v. Ohio State Bar Association, 436 U.S. 447, 98 S. Ct. 1912, 1919 (1978).

In re George C. Howard Jr., 188 Ill. 2d 423 (1999).

In re Francis M. Discipio, 163 Ill. 2d 515 (1994).

In re Raymond Bodkin, 21 Ill. 2d 458 (1961).

People ex rel. The Chicago Bar Association v. Barasch, 406 Ill. 253 (1950).

People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Association v. Schafer, 404 Ill. 45 (1949).

People ex rel. Chicago Bar Association v. Goodman, 366 Ill. 346 (1937).

People ex rel. The Illinois State Bar Association v. The Peoples Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462 (1931).

Chicago Bar Association v. Kellogg, 338 Ill. App. 618 (1st Dist. 1949).

ISBA Opinions on Professional Conduct Nos. 01-05, 99-02.


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