RULE 7.3 DIRECT CONTACT WITH PROSPECTIVESOLICITATION OF CLIENTS
(a) A lawyer, or the lawyer's representative, shall not by in-person or telephone contact, or other
real-time contact, solicit professional employment from a prospective clientanyone known to be in
need of legals services in a particular matter when a significant motive for the solicitation is the
lawyer's pecuniary gain unless the person contacted:
(1) is a lawyer; or
(2) has a family, personal, or prior professional relationship with the lawyer.
(b) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment from a prospective client by written, recorded,
or electronic communication or by in-person, telephone , or real-time contact even when not
otherwise prohibited by paragraph (a), if:
(1) the prospective clienttarget of the solicitation has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be
solicited by the lawyer;
(2) the solicitation involves coercion, duress, or harassment; or
(3) the receipt of the solicitation is uninvited and imposes any involuntary economic cost on the
prospective client to respond to the solicitation.
(c) Notwithstanding the prohibitions in paragraph (a), a lawyer may participate with a prepaid or
group legal service plan operated by an organization not owned or directed by the lawyer which uses
in-person or telephone 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.
 A solicitation is a targeted communication initiated by the lawyer that is directed to a specific
person and that offers to provide, or can reasonably be understood as offering to provide, legal
services. In contrast, a lawyer’s communication typically does not constitute a solicitation if it is
directed to the general public, such as through a billboard, an Internet banner advertisement, a
website or a television commercial, or if it is in response to a request for information or is
automatically generated in response to Internet searches.
 The lawyer is a trained advocate and the client in need of legal services may be emotionally
vulnerable. As a result, the prospective client a person in need of legal services, who may be
overwhelmed by the circumstances giving rise to the need for legal services, may find it difficult to
fully evaluate all available alternatives with reasoned judgment in the lawyer's presence and
insistence upon immediate retention. Such a situation is fraught with the possibility of undue
influence, intimidation, unaccountable misrepresentation and over-reaching.
 Other forms of client developmentsolicitation are permissible under these rules, offering
lawyers alternative means of conveying necessary information to those who may be in need of legal
services. Advertising may be communicated via virtually any type of media. Materials may be mailed
topotential clients in most circumstances and the Internet is available for lawyers to present a vast
array of credentials in an affordable way, without subjecting the prospective clienta person known
to be in need of legal services to persuasion that may overwhelm the client'sthe person’s judgment.
 Additionally, the contents of advertising and other non-direct communications permitted in
these rules can be permanently recorded so that they cannot be disputed. This potential for informal
review is itself likely to help guard against statements and claims that might constitute false or
misleading communications in violation of Rule 7.1. The contents of direct communications between
a lawyer and a prospective clientperson known to be in need of legal services can be disputed and
are not subject to verification and the protection that can derive from a record. Consequently, the
direct communication is more likely to approach the line between accurate representations and those
that are false or misleading.
 There are several circumstances in which direct communications with prospective clients are
permitted including when the prospective client is a lawyer, a family member, a current or prior
client or where the lawyer accepts the case without any pecuniary gain.
 Any solicitation that contains information that is unlawful or is false or misleading within the
meaning of Rule 7.1 is prohibited. Additionally, any solicitation that involves contact with a
prospective clientperson who has indicated a desire to the lawyer not to be solicited, any solicitation
that involves coercion, duress or harassment, or any solicitation that imposes any involuntary
economic cost to respond on the prospective client are all impermissible under this rule. If after
sending a letter or other communication to a prospective clienta person known to be in need of legal
services in a manner that is permissible by these rules, a lawyer receives no response, any further
effort to communicate with the prospective clientperson may be deemed harassment under this rule.
Likewise, multiple uninvited e-mail messages could fall under this category.
 Paragraph (c) of this Rule permits a lawyer to participate with an organization that uses
personal contact to solicit members for its group or prepaid legal service plan, provided that the
personal contact is not undertaken by any lawyer who would be a provider of legal services through
the plan. The organization referred to in paragraph (c) must not be owned by or directed (whether
as manager or otherwise) by any lawyer of law firm that participates in the plan. For example,
paragraph (c) would not permit a lawyer to create an organization controlled directly or indirectly
by the lawyer and use the organization for direct solicitation of legal employment of the lawyer
through memberships in the plan or otherwise. The communication permitted by these organizations
must also not be directed to a person known to need legal services in a particular matter, but is to be
designed to inform potential plan members generally of another means of affordable legal services.
Lawyers who participate in a legal service plan must reasonably assure that the plan sponsors are in
compliance with the other rules governing communications concerning the services of a lawyer.
I respectfully dissent.
I start with the proposition that disciplinary rules are not aspirational rules; they are rules to define
conduct that is intolerable or incompatible with the practice of law and the conduct of the profession
and to provide the basis for disciplining the lawyer who engages in such conduct. A lawyer's direct
in-person communication with a non-lawyer can be abusive. Rule 7.1, prior to these amendments,
prohibited such abusive conduct. It provided, in part:
(b) A lawyer shall not, by in-person contact made by the lawyer or the lawyer's representative,suggest or request that a nonlawyer employ the lawyer if the nonlawyer has not sought advice from
the lawyer or the person professionally associated with the lawyer regarding employment of a lawyer
(1) the suggestion or request involves use of a statement or claim that is false or misleading,
within the meaning of subsection (a); or
(2) the suggestion or request involves the use of undue influence, coercion, duress, compulsion,
intimidation, threat, or vexatious or harassing conduct; or
(3) the lawyer or representative knows or reasonably should know that the potential client's
physical or mental condition makes it unlikely that the potential client can exercise reasonable,
considered judgment as to the potential employment; or
(4) the suggestion or request involves use of a representative and the lawyer knows or reasonably
should know that such conduct violates the representative's contractual or other legal obligations.
(c) A lawyer shall not contact, in person or through a representative, a nonlawyer for the purpose
of suggesting or requesting that the nonlawyer employ the lawyer or a person professionally
associated with the lawyer if the lawyer or representative knows or reasonably should know that the
potential client does not wish to be contacted for this purpose.
Prior Rule 7.1 dealt with the situation frequently described as "ambulance chasing," when a
prospective client is particularly vulnerable, and a lawyer who engaged in such conduct could be
disciplined under it. The language quoted above has been deleted from Rule 7.1 and replaced with
a new rule, Rule 7.3, dealing with direct contact with prospective clients.
Rule 7.3 makes sanctionable direct in-person contact that I would describe as ordinary commercial
speech. I posit three examples which are sanctionable under this new rule.
A new lawyer moves to town in North Dakota. The lawyer walks up and down main street of her
new town and hands out business cards, introducing herself and telling the people to whom the
lawyer gives her business card that she would appreciate being able to assist them if they have legal
A lawyer sitting at a banquet overhears another person sitting at the same table describe a problem
he is having. The lawyer says to that person: "My firm has had experience in dealing with that issue.
We would certainly be interested in helping you resolve it."
After giving a speech to a local trade association, the lawyer socializes with its members. In
conversation with a member the lawyer has never met before, he says to the member, "I know this
is a problem you will be dealing with soon. With the information I've given you today, you'll
recognize the need for legal help and I hope you will come to me."
None of the lawyers has violated the former Rule 7.1, but all of the lawyers have violated Rule 7.3(a)if they are hoping to get paid for their work.
This overly broad rule may make it more difficult for newly admitted lawyers to get established in
the profession and will give an advantage to those firms with the resources and inclination to engage
in expensive media advertising.
I do not believe Rule 7.3 could survive constitutional scrutiny, if challenged under the First
Amendment. See Thompson v. W. States Med. Ctr., 535 U.S. 357 (2002); Greater New Orleans
Broad. Ass'n v. United States, 527 U.S. 173 (1999). The fact that this Court promulgates a rule to
regulate a profession rather than ordinary commercial speech does not immunize it from challenge.
Republican Party of Minn. v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002); Ibanez v. Florida Dep't of Bus. & Prof'l
Regulation, 512 U.S. 136 (1994).
Because I believe prior Rule 7.1 appropriately dealt with unethical in-person contact, I dissent from
the amendments to that rule. Because I believe Rule 7.3 is more extensive than necessary to serve
this Court's interest in disciplining lawyers whose in-person contact with prospective clients is
incompatible with the standards of our profession, I dissent from the adoption of Rule 7.3.
Carol Ronning Kapsner
Dale V. Sandstrom
Rule 7.3 amended effective 03/01/04, 08/01/06, .
Reference: Minutes of Joint Committee on Attorney Standards on 06/08/99, 09/16/99, 11/19/99,
03/23/00, 06/13/00, 09/15/00, 11/17/00, 06/11/02, 09/12/02, 11/15/02, and, 06/24/03, 06/10/14,