It has been said that whenever there is a big disaster the first two groups of people to arrive are reporters and lawyers, obviously implying that lawyers are there to solicit clients. Obviously, in person solicitation of clients, particularly those in a vulnerable state of mind, is unethical and unprofessional and can easily result in disbarment. On the other hand, solicitation by other means is allowed because it is protected speech -- and the state can only intervene if it meets a high (although not the highest) burden of constitutional scrutiny. Most of this kind of solicitation is done by means that, although not much less targeted than the personal visit, result in less intrusion on the privacy of the prospective client.
Sadly, earlier this month, there was plane crash in Buffalo that attracted the attention of lawyers looking for clients which leads to the question "How hungry does a law firm have to be to run the risk that their client acquisition tactics will put them in ethical hot water?" That is the question Eric Turkewitz, a lawyer in New York who hosts a well known New York personal injury blog, explores in a series of posts in the days after the crash. The posts, listed below in the order in which they were published, are well worth a look.
Buffalo Plane Crash WILL Test New York's New Anti-Solicitation Rules
Buffalo Plane Crash Ad Taken Down
Flight 3407 (Buffalo Crash) Web Site Established By Law Firm (Contravening Ethics Rules?)
DC Firm Jumps Into Cyber-Solicitation Fray, Chasing Buffalo Air Crash Clients