Bankruptcy Legal Marketing: Rule 1-400 Advertising and Solicitation
In California The Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1-400 Advertising and Solicitation prohibit a direct contact by an attorney of a prospective client:
For purposes of this rule, a “solicitation” means any communication:
(1) Concerning the availability for professional employment of a member or a law firm in which a significant motive is pecuniary gain; and (2) Which is:
(a) delivered in person or by telephone, or (b) directed by any means to a person known to the sender to be represented by counsel in a matter which is a subject of the communication.
A solicitation shall not be made by or on behalf of a member or law firm to a prospective client with whom the member or law firm has no family or prior professional relationship, unless the solicitation is protected from abridgment by the Constitution of the United States or by the Constitution of the State of California. A solicitation to a former or present client in the discharge of a member’s or law firm’s professional duties is not prohibited.
The rule though does not prohibit contacting a client in which the attorney has had a prior professional relationship. What this means that former bankruptcy clients may solicited for further legal work. The work may not involve bankruptcy since under 11 U.S.C. 727 a person cannot file chapter 7 for a discharge but once every eight years, but there are other facets of your law practice that your client may not know about.
When a bankruptcy client comes to your office, she only has one thing on her mind and that is her troubles with creditors. She has a one track mind to find a solution to the constant creditor harassment. You and your staff will help her learn about the bankruptcy process and hopefully you can help her get a discharge. When she leaves you office, she will only think about you as a bankruptcy lawyer. However if you do other things such as family law or estate planning, these former bankruptcy clients may need reminders of what else you do.
After the discharge of their debts has settled into your client, now is the time to educate your client on what else you do and can help with. I suggest giving your client a month or two after the discharge and then contact her with the other things that you do. This is an extension of your bankruptcy marketing plan as it keeps your name in front of your former clients while promoting your practice as a whole.