Most people text these days, as almost all Americans have a cell phone, and most have a smartphone. Attorneys that want to stay relevant may be offering or considering offering client texting. Communicating this way can help clients feel valued, save you both time, and improve client satisfaction and engagement.
But is this format actually acceptable for legal matters? Are there ethical rules you need to follow? Here’s everything lawyers need to know about texting their clients.
Is it OK to text clients about cases?
In general, it is acceptable and reasonable to offer client texting in some form. This format is how a lot of people communicate now, so it makes sense that attorneys would use it to send reminders or updates periodically. It is convenient for clients and they will likely appreciate being able to talk that way.
But remember that texting isn’t necessarily the best place to communicate complex details about a case. It may be better to text short bits of information and suggest meeting in person with clients if they have questions or if you have an important confidential update about a case.
Many jurisdictions have opinions about how clients and attorneys can communicate, and even email correspondence may not be secure enough when discussing highly sensitive information.
Ethical best practices for texting
The ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct discuss both technology usage and communications guidelines for attorneys. Rule 1.1 states that attorneys need to provide competent representation, which the comment explains includes technological competence, “including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” So, if a lawyer decides to use texting, they must understand the risks and the benefits and communicate them to clients.
Texting may help attorneys comply with Rule 1.4, which states that a lawyer will keep their clients “reasonably informed” about the status of their cases and promptly inform them of any changes. Texting is a great format to remind a client about a meeting or hearing or sending a simple update.
Here are a few best practices for lawyer texting so you can enjoy the benefits texting brings while being smart about how you use it:
- Always talk to clients about texting expectations, including which topics are appropriate to text and which aren’t
- Add information about texting expectations to your representation agreement
- Make sure clients are comfortable using this method of communication
- Disable message previews and ask clients to do the same so information is further protected
- Use a texting service that gives you extra protection and helps you manage it
How the right tools can help
With the right software, you can stay compliant while offering a flexible communication option to your clients. Client texting from NextChapter helps you stay tech-savvy and ensures that information is secure. A few details of this feature:
- Automated reminders so clients stay informed about hearings and dates
- Alerts about tasks they need to complete
- Lawyers assigned a local phone number so you never have to give out your own
- Saved conversation history
- Email notifications each time a client sends you a text
NextChapter makes it easier for you to offer client texting. Sign up to learn more about our legal software and how it will improve your practice.