ADVTERTISING AND SOLICITATIONWhile it is not improper for a law firm to give an "open house" for its clients and friends at Christmas, it the invitation to such a party is commercial in tone the action of the law firm in sending such an invitation would constitute advertising and solicitation.
The following invitation sent out in mimeographed form on the stationary of the law firm, was received by a Claims Agent of an Insurance Company:
OUR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS
PARTY FOR OUR CLIENTS
Since the personnel in the Claim Departments of our clients often change during the year, to make sure no one is overlooked, the envelope containing this invitation is being addressed only to the Claim Manager, with the request that you pass it around to all the boys. It is intended for all of you. We look forward to seeing you.
This law firm has sent out a similar letter for about the last seven years. Inasmuch as seven years ago the law firm may have represented a company to whom the firm still sends invitations but whom the firm does not now represent, would the firms action be in violation of the Canons of Ethics?
The question seems to be whether a law firm may give a Christmas party for clients and invite them by mimeographed invitations on firm letterheads, particularly when the law firm has difficulty distinguishing between clients and former clientsdistinction not always easy to make.
The committee feels that it cannot tell lawyers generally that they cannot have any office parties at Christmas. Opinion 102 permits "open house" for clients and friends. The invitation in question, however, seems more commercial in nature, being termed "our annual Christmas party for our clients." In addition, the invitation is being sent, as one of our committee expressed it, to employees of clients (and possibly to employees of a company that is not a client) where there is no personal relationship between these employees and the law firm to justify such an invitation.
The committee believes, therefore, that, if the tone of the invitation is somewhat commercial, the action of a law firm in using such invitation would smack of advertising and solicitation and would violate Canon 24. See Opinions 210 and 168 and ABA Opinion 59, relating to different but comparable problems. (9-0.)