Direct mail restrictions

December 1, 2008
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Have you ever been in an accident and then received mail from an attorney only days later? If you have, did you find the mailing helpful or annoying? That’s what the Indiana State Bar Association wants to find out from residents regarding direct mail from attorneys following accidents. The survey of residents will ask if lawyers should have to wait 30 days until directly contacting people by mail.

Bloomington attorney Ken Nunn doesn’t like this idea. In documents he recently sent to IL reporter Michael Hoskins, who wrote a story about the survey, Nunn notes he’s probably sent as much or more direct mail than any other attorney in Indiana. One of the documents Nunn sent us is a copy of an e-mail he sent to a listserv. The gist of it is that Nunn doesn’t support the idea of a cooling-off period and instituting the 30-day ban is a restriction on attorneys’ freedom of speech.

Nunn argues there’s nothing wrong with sending free information to people right after they’ve been involved in an accident because although it’s advertising, it provides information to the public. He says the information he sends to potential clients can help prevent people from getting the short end of the stick from an insurance company, information that people might not know unless they received his mailings.

I’ve been in a few auto accidents and haven’t received anything from attorneys in the mail, probably because they were minor accidents. My reaction to receiving a direct mailing would be to just throw it away.

Nunn does bring up some good points in his argument, but in today’s litigious society, I’d be willing to bet most people who are injured in an accident that isn’t their fault already think about contacting an attorney even if they don’t get direct mail from one. The benefit of direct mail is those people will have an attorney name and number right in front of them, making it more likely for some injured people to contact that attorney instead of searching for another to represent them. If someone wants to sue, they will regardless of when they receive a direct mailer or even if they don’t receive one at all.

Do you think a cooling-off period is a good idea or unnecessary? If you’ve received direct mail from an attorney after an accident, how soon did you get it?
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