It’s no secret that those of us who are personal injury lawyers have a bad name. And one of the biggest reasons is the ridiculous and illegal tactics that many lawyers go through to solicit clients.
In Texas, it is illegal for lawyers or those working on the lawyers’ behalf to make initial contact with clients, either in person or on the phone, in an effort to solicit the client’s business. Attorneys can solicit clients in writing, but the solicitation can’t be mailed until thirty-one or more days following the accident. There are other things the barratry statute prohibits, but these are the big ones.
The Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association (I’m a member of both) have each played an active role in getting these statutes strengthened. We were successful in the 2011 legislative session, helping pass significant legislation that allows for those who are solicited to seek a recovery (including a $10,000 fine) even if the injured don’t enter into a contract as a result of the solicitation. This fine applies not only to the lawyer, but anyone soliciting on behalf of the lawyer. This was a huge new change designed to put teeth in the law and discourage this improper behavior.
Only it didn’t.
Yesterday, the Montgomery County district attorney conducted a raid on the law offices of eight Houston-area injury attorneys, including the law office of State Representative Ron Reynolds. Stories report that the attorneys allegedly entered into a complicated scheme that included chiropractors, case-runners, and more. You can read about the scheme here.
This is obviously discouraging. We’ve worked hard to limit this type of behavior, and yet it continues.
I only hope that other prosecutors around the state follow the lead of the Montgomery County DA and try to enforce the laws and deter this illegal conduct.
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