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To Text or Not to Text?

A young woman texting her attorneyJust a few years ago, the idea of texting clients and prospects was largely seen as inappropriate or simply too casual. Now, it is becoming more and more acceptable or even preferable to some people. However, there are some definite drawbacks. For one, professionalism can potentially suffer via text message, as well as clear boundaries. That said, more avenues for reaching your target clients can only be seen as a positive. We’ll discuss the merits of texting for lawyers in this post and let you decide if it’s right for you and your firm.

Pros

1. Increased Approachability

As you know, many clients are seeking legal help from a place of fear, stress, or anxiety. They may be facing difficult circumstances at present and are wary about retaining a lawyer. This is one area where texting can really help. It may feel far less intimidating to send a text asking a lawyer for a consultation as opposed to calling.

2. Convenient & Efficient

Most attorneys who text do so primarily to coordinate schedules, meetings, consultations, court dates, and other events with their professional partners or clients. Confirming important appointments with your clients via text is supremely quick and easy and can significantly reduce the amount of phone tag you’re currently playing.

3. Solid Records

Sometimes things can go awry during a case and having written notes about client correspondence are crucial to validating your side of the story. Saving text messages from your clients could potentially help you out in a tense situation in the future, though we certainly hope it doesn’t come to that!

4. Popular Among Younger Clients

Perhaps one of the biggest appeals of attorney-client texting is for those who work with clients in their 20s and 30s. People of this age are exceedingly comfortable with texting and may prefer it over other forms of communication. This demographic may even harbor a slight fear or anxiousness around speaking over the phone. Allowing them to text you could just make you their favorite attorney ever.

Cons

1. Varying Rules

Not all state bar associations have the same regulations regarding text messages. For example, the Florida State Bar Association recently opened up the permissibility of texting clients, but this development is new. Before you start searching for a gavel emoji, be sure to check your association’s guidelines.

2. Murky Boundaries

This applies to every industry, but opening up communications via our cell phones presents an opportunity for the bounds of professionalism to erode in some cases. For example, if a client calls your firm after hours, they don’t expect someone to answer the phone. Conversely, they might expect an expedient response if they text you at 9:00 pm and become upset if you don’t get back to them until the next morning. This is why it’s crucial to set and enforce clear boundaries if you tell your clients you can communicate via text.

3. Misunderstandings & Missed Messages

As is a danger with email, there is a distinct lack of tone within short written communications that can potentially cause problems. It’s also much easier to take different meanings or misinterpret a message. And perhaps the biggest danger of all: forgetting to respond. We all do it; you glance at the text and resolve to answer it once you’re done with (fill-in-the-blank) and then completely forget to do so. This could truly harm your relationship with your client, so it’s important to proceed with caution!

Your Practice, Your Call

Of course, you know your firm and clients better than anyone else. So take a few minutes to think about whether or not this could be a good option for you and proceed with confidence. For more marketing insights and tips, be sure to follow Upsource on Facebook and Twitter, or give us a call at (800) 893-2590. If you do decide to start texting your clients, let us know how it goes!

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