At New York Personal Injury Law Blog, lawyer Eric Turkewitz again draws attention to lawyers who unethically seek clients using "runners". His most recent post on the subject focuses on several Florida law firms suing other firms for employing runners to solicit clients.
One Florida law blog describes how runners act as intermediaries for third parties seeking to get work from accident victims: the runners make regular requests of law enforcement agencies for hundreds of accident reports, and those agencies have to comply with the requests under Florida law.
The runners subsequently use the reports to personally solicit accident victims or to turn a list of victims' names over to a third party who will solicit. These solicitations generally take the form of either harassing or invasive telephone calls or intimidating personal visits to the insured's home. Whether by telephone or in person, the solicitor generally misleads the victims into thinking they are speaking to their insurance company and that the visit to a doctor or chiropractic clinic is mandatory. The runner will often also refer victims to an auto body shop and a lawyer, all in return for kickbacks.
This amounts to "ambulance chasing," which is a type of solicitation strictly prohibited by the Rules of Professional Conduct. Eric pronounces the opinion of most lawyers when he writes:
The concept of chasing cases has long been a stain on the [legal] profession. I know I am not alone in being upset to see our reputations tarnished by the less reputable. Whenever any member of a community acts inappropriately, it affects the reputations of others. Decent cops and priests know all about this concept when they see wayward others from their insular communities in the news in unflattering ways.
When lawyers act unethically, it perpetuates and reinforces the stigma on the entire legal profession unethical lawyers have created. I previously wrote that ads rarely reflect reality, focusing on bad attorney ads that cast a pallor over the profession by using less-than-professional marketing tactics. Eric's posts nicely articulate and expand upon the comments in my blog, and drive home the point that those lawyers who cant practice law within the bounds of ethics and professionalism shouldn't be practicing law at all:
The message should be loud and clear: If you employ runners to chase cases at the local hospitals you shouldn’t be practicing law. And it should be equally clear that the vast, vast majority of attorneys look down with utter disdain on such conduct. Without question, most of the lawyers that I run into, on both the plaintiffs and defense side, practice law conscientiously and ethically. The corrupt ones should not expect others to come to their defense.