Admittedly, I have not looked at the ethical rules since 1987. So, I’m sure things have changed. Like solicitation of clients. Last time I looked it was a no-go, at least for soliciting people at the pool or in the sauna. Given that it’s nearly twenty-five years later and we have MS-DOS and fax machines, there’s really no need to read the rules. I’d be shocked if the powers that be over at the American Bar Association have not nixed the previous prohibition of in-person solicitation of clients. Which gets me to my point: lawyers are missing a huge opportunity for increased business by ignoring door-to-door sales. That’s too bad. If you have a strong sales demeanor, a solid aptitude for rejection, and good Rockport shoes, here are our top sales tips for building a door-to-door law firm.
Door-to-Door Domestics. Walking around a neighborhood can get you quickly in touch with what’s happening domestically. As in, marriages, domestic partnerships, and who is (or is not) into swinging. Take note of what you see and make it a point to revisit noted trouble spots, places where spouses were arguing in the yard or, after you peeked into their living room windows, they were arguing about something stupid, like bills or dishes or pet grooming. Come back to the house in a couple of weeks and offer a slew of services, from legal separations to full-out divorces. If you see a child in the yard or toys in the front room, offer a blow-out deal on a custody battle. Better yet, offer to terminate parental rights of any offending spouse or partner. You’ll be surprised how quickly people may take you up on the offer.
Instant Easement Services. Few things can bring in big legal bucks better than property disputes between neighbors. Even a one-inch boundary line dispute can cost clients their sanity and more than $10,000. And most potential clients are, quite literally, standing on top of boundary disputes. Take note of fences, sidelots, and defensive border shrubs. Ring the bell of a neighbor and explain how boundary disputes are like another Fenian Invasion of Canada, but more imminent and frightening. And offer up instant easement services to fix any problems, either by drafting a suitable easement, memorializing an agreement, or serving a partition complaint on the neighbor while she waters her begonias.
Well Disclosure Counseling. No layperson understands the full ramifications of well disclosures. That means big business for the door-to-door lawyer familiar with the myriad state laws covering disclosure of wells on residential property. Bring a topographical map with you on your door-to-door rounds (any topographical map will do). Ring the bell of random houses or stop to talk to neighbors about proper well disclosures. Haul out your topographical map and make sweeping references to the map and to the dire circumstances of failing to disclose wells properly, including potential for solitary confinement in prison. Most folks don’t know that prisoners who are in the slammer for improper well disclosures are a marked bunch and are targeted by other prisoners for abuse. Don’t let your potential clients become victimized.
Public Indecency Advising. It’s remarkable what is seemingly acceptable for gardening attire these days, which has led to a four-fold increase in the prosecution of public indecency. Become an expert on what is decent, indecent, undecent, or nondecent. Providing proactive door-to-door advice can raise your standing in neighborhoods and increase your overall street clout. Moreover, with your new-found expertise in public indecency law, you can also provide door-to-door advice on proper yard art, the criminalization of kitchiness, and proper non-discriminatory placement of yard gnomes and jockeys.
With a little preparation and a lot of sweat and walking, you can easily build a solid door-to-door law firm. Let us know how it works for you and whether there are other areas of law we should consider. Happy knocking.
Eeek. I hope this is a joke. In-person solicitation is as unethical now as it was 25 years ago.
You probably should have looked at the ABA Model Rules before taking the time to writing this. In my jurisdiction, this is still a HUGE no-no.
C. Hank Peters says
Seriously? It hasn’t changed in 25 years? How about if I mime? Does that count?
Ethics Man says
There is no way this article on in-person solicitation is a joke, this guy is way too serious.
For god’s sake man, you have to look up the ABA model rules ever few years or so to stay on top of these things – are you crazy? In-person solicitation by mime is still communicating duh. I’m never coming back here for serious ethics advice – no way no how.
Wow. Just wow.
(a) This is a cardinal ethical sin–a very efficient way of getting disciplined.
(b) The kind of lawyer you describe in this article (sort of a generalist) doesn’t have time to stroll around a neighborhood listening for domestic fights or taking measurements for encroachments. Being a lawyer is a time consuming job. Lawyers like you describe hire marketing people to drive business for them, so they can focus on their core competencies…i.e., practicing law.
Take this article down. If you want to hold yourself out as a legal marketing guy, you’re driving away potential customers.
C. Hank Peters says
I really appreciate all the advice here. Good to get. I’ve decided that, instead of either miming or actually going to the door, I will use a megaphone from my car and talk to people from the car window. I may stand the chance of scaring folks, but don’t want to get into any hot water, ethically sort of speaking. Thanks!
Are you above all really that dense? You must all be attorneys, as it appears you’ve all had a humorectomy.
Ethics Man says
This comment couldn’t have been stated better. Every year ABA delegates are confronted with howls to drop the “Megaphone Rule” (or at least pass the “Megaphone Exception”.)
The “newbie” attorney, who may have purchased a Pyle-Pro PMP30 Professional Megaphone/Bullhorn with Siren – or been given one as a graduation gift – thinking they were following the rules regulating solicitation, may get tripped up by the labyrinthine regulations on legitimate megaphone use for attorneys.
Best to stay away from the “edge of the envelope” as they say.
How about pey-per-click ads? Cannot it be deemed door-to-door? For as long as I understand using sites such as Lawyers.com or LawyerFindOnline.com which purpose is to introduce attorneys to those who search them, pey-per-click seems a bit off to me requiring lawyers to bid against each other for the business. If I have better boots and run faster, I can still make it better to the door, right?