End Lawyer Direct Mail Spam Now

Lawyer’s seek to profit from your pain by direct mail spam

Joe experienced a devastatingly horrible event in his life. He drank to much at the office holiday party and foolishly decided to drive himself home. Joe almost made it home when he saw the flashing red lights in his rear view mirror. Joe failed the field sobriety tests and blew a breathalyzer reading of .18. Joe was charged with DUI.

About ten days later, Joe was still in shock.  He went to his mailbox and about 10 direct mail spam letters from lawyers fell out. These unsolicited epistles from lawyers offering to represent Joe in his DUI case. Joe thought to himself, how did these spammers get my home address? And, why would they seek to profit from my pain?

How did the lawyers get my personal contact information?

Think, Freedom of Information Act. The Act can be used for wonderful purposes. It also can be used by spamming lawyers to acquire personal information from your police records.

Think, private companies that make a living providing lawyers with your personal contact information to fuel the spam fire.

Proposed new guidelines to control lawyer direct mail spam

The Supreme Court’s Committee on Attorney Advertising is overhauling guidelines that govern unsolicited, direct mailings.

Proposed changes were released for public comment on March 15.

Current Guideline 2(c) requires that in direct mail solicitations, the word “ADVERTISEMENT” be “prominently displayed” on the outside of the envelope or self-contained mailer only if the outside is “imprinted or stamped with any message relating to the subject matter of the solicitation.” It was last amended in 2005 and is based on Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3(b)(5)(i).

An intervening change to the rule that took effect on Sept. 1, 2010, says the word “ADVERTISEMENT” must appear on the outside of every mailing “unless the lawyer has a family, close personal, or prior relationship with the recipient” — in other words, any unsolicited mailing.

The proposed guideline revision imports that requirement. It also specifies that the font be at least one size larger than anything else on the envelope and that “ADVERTISEMENT” be printed in boldface if anything else on the envelope is.

Further, if any mention of the mailing’s purpose appears on the envelope, it will have to contain the same two notices that must appear on the solicitation letters inside.

One is: “Before making your choice of attorney, you should give this matter careful thought. The selection of an attorney is an important decision.”

The other notice advises recipients that an inaccurate or misleading letter can be reported to the committee, and provides the mailing address.

The requirement for notices on the outside of the envelope dates back to a July 17, 1996, committee advisory opinion that was never before incorporated into the guidelines.

David Rubin, chair of the State Bar Association’s Professional Responsibility and Unlawful Practice Committee, says he agrees with the changes because “people who get unsolicited letters from lawyers in the mail should know before they open the envelope that it contains attorney advertising as opposed to, for example, a threat of a lawsuit against them.”

If the envelope alerts them that it holds advertising, they can throw it out without opening it, says Rubin, a Metuchen solo.

He also agrees with putting the notices outside. “If you choose to make the outside of your envelope part of the advertisement itself, that advertising must also conform to the notices required of advertising in general.”

He points out  that “it will make for some crowded-looking envelopes.”

[Via NJ Law Journal].

Commentary

Spam is a horror, regardless of the form and format it takes. You can’t imagine the number of spam comments I get on my websites and blogs. It is embarrassing to receive the same junk mail from lawyers who use the Freedom of Information Act, or worse yet, pay to secure your personal contact information.

Are you the unfortunate recipient of junk faxes?

It’s time to end spam!

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