Whether the activities of R. W. Lynch Co. (Injury Helpline) constitute the activities of an "intermediary organization" as defined in Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 44 and R. 8 (7.6).
R. W. Lynch Co. (Lynch) produces and places television commercials for attorneys who advertise jointly. The advertising program offered by Lynch operates as follows:
(1) Personal injury lawyers in a television market agree to participate in a joint advertisement.
(2) Lynch produces television commercials that comply with the Tennessee ethical rules on advertisements.
(3) The commercial identifies in print each advertising lawyer by name and geographic area. Each geographic territory is exclusive to one attorney.
(4) Television viewers call the Injury Helpline 800 telephone number. The answering service inquires only the caller's name, telephone number and zip code.
(5) The caller information is forwarded to the lawyer whose geographic territory includes that zip code. The operator has no discretion in forwarding calls and performs no filtering function.
(6) The answering service does not screen calls or exercise judgment in any manner and doesn't know what the person is calling about. The operator's task is only ministerial in nature.
(7) Each lawyer pays a flat monthly fee for the advertisement, regardless of the number of calls received. No fees are split between the advertising lawyers and Lynch.
Lynch performs the same function performed by advertising agencies. The lawyers who advertise with Lynch are not part of any organization. Rather, they contract with Lynch for production and placement of joint advertisements. There is no attempt to match lawyer and potential client. Callers are not "customers", "members" or "beneficiaries" of Lynch or any organization. Callers do not pay anything to Lynch. No third parties are involved. Under the Lynch advertising program, the only parties involved are Lynch and the participating attorneys.
The activities of Lynch described herein do not constitute the activities of a "lawyer referral service" or a "lawyer-advertising cooperative --- the business or activities of which include the referral of its customers, members or beneficiaries to lawyers ---". The activities of Lynch do not constitute the activities of an "intermediary organization" as defined in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 44 and Rule 8, RPC 7.6.
This 16th day of June, 2006.
Thomas S. Scott, Jr., Chair
C. Thomas Davenport, Jr.
W. Ferber Tracy
David L. Mason
APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD