Soliciting Sophisticates: A Modest Proposal for Attorney Solicitation

This Note advocates an amendment to the ethical standards governing attorneys that will permit the personal solicitation for pecuniary gain of sophisticated prospective clients – that is, those persons having general knowledge of their legal needs and the expertise to assess adequately the information and presentation of an attorney. Part I of this Note shows that lawyer solicitation is a form of commercial speech under recent Supreme Court decisions. It also asserts that, though the traditional reasons for banning lawyer solicitation still have some validity, these reasons do not justify prohibiting the solicitation of sophisticated clients. Part II suggests some potential benefits to the legal profession and clients resulting from the proposed solicitation amendment. In Part III, this Note offers a bright-line standard for “sophistication” that the bar might apply to this amendment so that lawyers can better determine the propriety of their activities. Finally, this Note concludes that adopting the amendment to permit the solicitation of sophisticated persons will not drastically change the way lawyers attract new clients, and will benefit both lawyers and consumers of legal services by recognizing their legitimate commercial speech interests.