Lawyers need to liaise with their clients constantly – and clients prefer to communicate in a convenient, fast, and familiar way. SMS facilitates quick and efficient information exchange – which is why you should consider using text for certain lawyer/client communications.
In this article, discover the advantages of text and how you could use it in your law firm (ethically and legally).
The benefits of text for lawyers
While email and formal written letters should rightly take the top spot for laying out the finer points of legal matters, there are several advantages of using text. For instance:
1. Texting is fast and efficient
Texts are ideal for sending out simple messages that need a quick response. Efficient communication will not only be appreciated by your clients – but will also be much more convenient for you and your legal team.
Additionally, text communications can reduce time-consuming phone calls, saving the client unnecessary billing hours and freeing up your time to work on other cases.
2. Channel of choice for many
Many people prefer to use text over other communication channels. We all use it in everyday life! Texts are instantly delivered and easy to read – and SMS is a technology that works for every single mobile phone owner (whether they have a smartphone or not). Giving your clients the choice to receive text communications increases satisfaction and helps drive engagement.
3. Can contribute to records of communication
Keeping records of client/lawyer communication is essential. As long as you use an SMS provider (and individual lawyers aren’t texting from their personal phones), you’ll be able to track all incoming and outgoing text messages and ascertain whether they’ve been delivered or received.
4. Text can drive new business
Text is widely used for marketing purposes because it’s a high-impact, reliable channel. Like any business, legal firms need to advertise their services. Providing your texts are legally compliant with the TCPA and CAN-SPAM Act, you can take advantage of the power of SMS and use it to attract new leads. One way to do this is to advertise a shortcode number that potential clients can text to opt-in to receive texts from your practice. You could display the shortcode in your office window, on business cards, etc.
Text use cases for lawyers
As a lawyer, you can’t use text for communicating the ins and outs of complex legal issues. But SMS is appropriate for the following:
Confirmations – confirm meeting dates and times, court notifications and acknowledge the sending or receipt of legal documentation.
Reminders – clients will appreciate a text reminder about meetings or court dates. You can also potentially speed up the payment process by sending out a text reminder when a client is due to pay their bill.
Requests – fire off a quick text to prompt a client to submit documentation, request a phone call or obtain feedback after a case completes.
Marketing – promote your area of expertise and tell potential clients how you can help them in a text message.
What type of texts can lawyers send?
You can either send one-way or two-way SMS. One-way texts are where you can message your client, but they can’t text you back. One-way text is best used for confirmations and reminders. With two-way texting, you and your client can send back and forth communication by SMS, providing greater flexibility with conversations.
Texts can be sent manually (as and when needed to individual clients) or automatically, depending on your SMS provider. At Messente, we offer a messaging API that can be integrated into hundreds of business applications, including CRM systems.
The integration gives you more choices on how you can use texting. For example, you may be able to trigger automated texts based on specific actions. So when a court date is booked, you could send out a text confirmation immediately, with a reminder two days before your client is due to appear in court.
Making sure texts are compliant and ethical
Maintaining client confidentiality and complying with data protection and telemarketing legislation when texting your clients is essential.
Part of this involves checking that:
Your clients give consent to receive text communications – agree from the outset what types of texts the client is willing to receive. You could include this in your initial agreement with the client. Only use text where it offers a clear benefit to your client, for example, for simple messages (as highlighted in the use cases above), where speed is of the essence.
Text communications are secure – use a quality SMS provider, check where the data is stored and that all messages are encrypted.
Texts are properly recorded – in the event of a dispute, you’ll need to track down communication records. Ensure you can document each text message and that they’re kept in one central system rather than on lawyers’ personal phones. Also, ensure your SMS provider can offer delivery reports so you can verify whether texts have been sent and received.
Using text for your legal practice
While texts aren’t appropriate for complex legal discussions, they’re ideal for quick communications, like meeting or court date confirmations, reminders or certain requests. As a lawyer, using text is highly convenient and can save lots of time for you and your client.
Before you decide to use text for your law firm, thoroughly consider your responsibilities on how you can ensure confidentiality and clients’ best interests are maintained.
When you’re ready to get started with texting, sign up for a free account with Messente. You’ll be able to explore our dashboard, upload a list of client contacts and create and send your first text message – at no cost. Learn more. Alternatively, get in touch to discuss any questions you might have around message security, data privacy or record-keeping.