Tennessee Supreme Court Changes Ethical Rules for Solicitation of Divorce Clients

Knoxville divorce lawyersOn February 12, 2015, the Tennessee Supreme Court adopted an amendment to the ethics rules that will ban written, electronic, telephonic, or in-person solicitation of potential divorce clients within 30 days of the filing of a divorce.

The Tennessee Supreme Court added the following Comment 5[A] to RPC 7.3:

RPC 7.3(b)(3) includes a prohibition against any solicitation of a prospective client within thirty (30) days of the filing of a complaint for divorce or legal separation involving that person, if a significant motive for the solicitation is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain. Some divorce or legal separation cases involve either an alleged history of domestic violence or a potential for domestic violence. In such cases, a defendant spouse’s receipt of a lawyer’s solicitation prior to being served with the complaint can increase the risk of a violent confrontation between the parties before the statutory injunction’s take effect. See Tennessee Code § 36-4-106(d) (2014) (imposing specified temporary injunctions, including “[a]n injunction restraining both parties from harassing, threatening, assaulting or abusing the other,” that take effect “[u]pon the filing of a petition for divorce or legal separation, and upon personal service of the complaint and summons on the respondent or upon waiver and acceptance of service by the respondent”) (emphasis added). The prohibition in RPC 7.3(b)(3) against any solicitation within thirty (30) days of the filing of a complaint for divorce or legal separation is intended to reduce any such risk and to allow the plaintiff spouse in such cases to take appropriate steps to seek shelter, an order of protection, and or any other relief that might be available.

The Tennessee Bar Association strongly objected to the proposal, citing serious reservations about the constitutionality of the ban.

The amendment to Rule 8, RPC 7.3, is effective May 1, 2015.

In re Rule 8, RPC 7.3(b)(3) (Tennessee Supreme Court, February 12, 2015).

Information provided by K.O. Herston: Knoxville, Tennessee Divorce, Matrimonial and Family Law Attorney.

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K.O. Herston is a family-law attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and other aspects of family law.

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