Recently two things happened that made me realize I should help highlight this point for my fellow South Carolinians.
- A horrible head on collision in Anderson County where deaths were reported; and
- Georgia attorney, Ken Shigley’s, blog post entitled "What to Do When Legal Vultures Descend on You After a Tragic Accident"
In Mr. Shigley’s article he highlights the pertinent parts of the Georiga Rules of Professional Conduct that are very similar in South Carolina. The most important thing to remember is that, as attorneys, we can not contact you or have someone (investigator, life planner, "fill in whatever foo foo bullshit title") contact you on our behalf after you or a family member has been in an accident.
There are stories about the Graniteville train accident, where out-of-town law firms had "runners" working cover as Red Cross workers to get clients. That’s wrong! (It was said, "All you had to do was look at the airplanes parked at the small community airport to tell something was up.")
Last year, I personally had a local attorney solicit a client away from me and I reported them for their bullshit, selfish, arrogant, and unethical act. They had an investigator waiting on my client when she got home that informed her that he had been working on her case and had an attorney that had also already been working on her case. (They didn’t anticipate her coming to a law firm prior to them getting to her.) That attorney came to her house, signed her up, and said they would take care of the "other attorney", aka ME!
I expressed it with comedy in my rewriting of "I Already Got an Attorney?" but it really pissed me off. I just could not handle getting in another fist fight and having my name in the paper, so I put it on my blog.
Rule 7.3 Direct Contact with Prospective Clients
(a) A lawyer shall not by in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact solicit professional employment from a prospective client when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain, unless the person contacted:
(1) is a lawyer; or
(2) has a family, close personal, or prior professional relationship with the lawyer.
(b) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment from a prospective client by direct written, recorded or electronic communication or by in-person, telephone, telegraph, facsimile or realtime electronic contact even when not otherwise prohibited by paragraph (a), if:
(1) the prospective client has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer;
(2) the solicitation involves coercion, duress, harassment, fraud, overreaching, intimidation or undue influence;
(3) the solicitation concerns an action for personal injury or wrongful death or otherwise relates to an accident or disaster involving the person solicited or a relative of that person unless the accident or disaster occurred more than thirty (30) days prior to the solicitation;
(5) the lawyer knows, or reasonably should know, that the physical, emotional, or mental state of the person makes it unlikely that the person would exercise reasonable judgment in employing a lawyer.