What Should Lawyers Know About The Ethics of Texting Clients?
Even as more communication options come up every day, texting remains the most popular method of maintaining personal and professional contact. Texting offers efficiency compared to other modes of communication like phone calls and email.
The open communication channel has a ripple effect on excellent customer service. Many businesses, including law firms, have adopted texting as a mode of communication with their clients. By lawyers texting clients, they can instantly update them on the status of their cases and set reminders. Clients get to know the quality of their cases and trust that their lawyers will always be available when the need arises.
Texting can be an important way to communicate and share confidential data, including photos and videos, and ask your clients questions that they can respond to when convenient for them. Still, under normal circumstances, it poses many risks to you and your client.
Are you a lawyer considering adopting texting as an official mode of communication for your firm? This piece will look at the advantages and disadvantages of lawyer texting clients, the ethical, security, and compliance issues that arise because of texting, and recommend the best tool to guarantee your safety and foster your attorney-client privilege.
Advantages and drawbacks of texting your clients
As a lawyer, you may find that you don't have time for a quick meet-up with your clients, or you may want a simple answer without getting into those lengthy phone calls. Texting someone is ten times faster than calling them. So, if a lawyer has to inform a client of anything short, such as an appointment time or meeting location, sending a quick SMS might make things a lot simpler.
Texting's convenience may also be its most significant drawback. Clients are more likely to reach out to you with any queries or issues they may have at any time of the day or night, making it easier for you to connect with them. Communication can be acceptable when done in moderation, but when lawyers have to deal with clients who constantly text late into the night, it can be a challenge to set protocols for communication expectations.
Conversations are recorded
For a lawyer, a typical day frequently entails multitasking and working on many matters simultaneously. With so much going on, recalling certain information from client discussions may be a challenge. Texting might solve this difficulty while creating written logs of your talks. You can save time because if you don't want to repeat yourself to a client, you just open the conversation on your phone.
The disadvantage of recorded conversation is that if you often leave your smartphone on a table, you might want to think again because you don't want a stranger or an untrustworthy coworker to access your interactions with clients. It's very easy for individuals near you to view a text that they weren't intended to read, because text alerts appear as notifications on locked screens of phones.
It is a simple method of communicating with clients
Trying to reach out to a busy client to speak with you on the phone may be pretty unpleasant. Though informal, texting might be an easy and ideal way of acquiring basic information from the client, enabling you to move faster on their cases.
The disadvantage that arises is that many legal issues are complex for the typical individual to comprehend. Texting a customer about a minor yes-or-no or logistical question often makes sense, but it's a bad idea if you're attempting to convey anything complicated or perplexing. These matters should typically be discussed in phone, videoconference, or in-person meetings, where you'll have the opportunity to clearly explain your thinking and get your client's feedback in detail.
Best practices for texting your clients
The bar for ethical conduct in the legal profession will rise as more attorneys communicate through text messaging. In terms of texting clients, these are some of the best practices:
Adopt law practice management software that enables users with a business phone number to text clients within the platform and securely stores all correspondences with each client.
Never negotiate on Attorney-client relationships, keeping in mind that business text messages are brief and casual is essential.
Discuss the expectations of using text messages as a mode of communication. Ensure that clients know that you should only address some issues in person, not by text message.
Set expectations for response time via text message. Although many people expect near real-time communication via SMS messaging, you should ensure that your clients understand that you may not get back to them immediately. Whatever your standard protocol is for email response time should be the same for text messaging.
Ethical considerations of SMS messaging with clients
The benefits of communicating quickly by text message outweigh the drawbacks for some lawyers. That being said, to avoid violating their ethical responsibilities, lawyers who utilize text messaging with clients may have to specify limitations for using text messages to create reasonable expectations surrounding the technology.
The ethical considerations that you need to bear in mind while messaging your clients are:
It is a lawyer's ethical duty to keep their clients informed to the degree required to allow them to make informed decisions about their representation, as stated in Rule 1.4(a) and (b) of the ABA Model regulations. Texting your customer can be an excellent method to assure them that you'll get back to them quickly, but it's not so great at ensuring that you'll have all of the information you need.
Consider restricting your text messaging to instances that allow for a brief update or a simple remark to be communicated. If you have a more complicated issue or topic, don't be afraid to continue the conversation through email, phone calls, or even video chat.
A good text messaging platform transforms how you communicate with customers by sending text messages with case updates, reminders of forthcoming events, court papers, and other relevant information. Clients benefit from superior service since their lawyers are constantly accessible and are aware of the most recent developments in their cases.
Even though texting has a more casual vibe, communication between a lawyer and a client is nonetheless deemed professional. As with email or written correspondence, you must keep copies. You should save text messages in a secure client file for future reference.
You should have access to the data and your ethical obligation to maintain client correspondence. Investigative or judicial proceedings may need this. It's not safe to rely on your cell phone service provider for backups.
Before you start texting customers, check if your company has protocols for tracking text messages. Text messages can be automatically archived using screenshots or third-party software. It's essential to remember that capturing screenshots of text conversations is time-consuming and prone to human mistakes. An excellent legal document management platform should provide data storage and organizing features.
By incorporating text messaging solutions into your existing communications strategy, you may improve your customer experience. Using a business texting service in your legal practice will help you improve customer service while fostering more profound, lasting bonds with your clients. Because of this, customer retention and referrals from satisfied clients are also enhanced.
Clients' ability to send a short text to their attorney, ask a fundamental question, or schedule a meeting or check-in can help you build a solid attorney-client relationship. Especially if you're a small practice without dedicated front office staff, providing a clear channel of communication like SMS messaging can help you enhance communication with your clients without requiring additional labor.
Communication between a lawyer and a client is protected by attorney-client privilege, with confidentiality as the most fundamental rule of the attorney-client relationship. In other words, attorneys can't expose their clients' oral or written remarks (or their comments to their clients) without their clients' permission. Whether a defendant admits guilt or denies it, all discussions between an attorney and a client remain private. Private defense attorneys and court-appointed attorneys are both obligated to respect the confidentiality of their clients.
There are no restrictions on how lawyers can interact with clients under the ABA Model Regulations and State Bar disciplinary rules, which merely cover the minimum degree of contact needed by law. When communicating with a client by text, an attorney should be aware of the hazards, such as hacking and confidentiality issues, and how to store and protect private text messages.
To avoid this possible problem, attorneys should encourage their clients to adopt screen locks and other security measures on their mobile devices or use software to guarantee the confidentiality of the conversations.
iPlum is the best text messaging solution for lawyers
iPlum is an encrypted communication app for business calling and texting. One can set up interactive voice response (IVR)-based automatic call attendants to manage calls and messages over the internet or through the phone's network. The platform lets businesses set business hours for when they can get calls and messages, and it automatically sends customer questions that come in during those hours to voicemail. It provides an encrypted and PIN-protected messaging service that allows you to meet the requirements of attorney-client privilege when sending or receiving text messages or multimedia files.
In addition to meeting the criteria of an ethical text messaging service, iPlum has an array of features that makes it the best in the market.
Text and Security
Using an encrypted messaging service like iPlum, you can adhere to the attorney-client privilege rule. The attorney can segregate their client's messages from other text messages, ensuring that they are not shared with anyone who may have access to the phone or guess the password. Also, if your phone is lost or stolen, you can lock the app with a PIN to ensure that even if someone gets into the phone itself, they will not be able to access the messages.
Having a distinct ringtone for business calls allows you to confidently share the phone number with your clients, knowing that you can distinguish between a personal and business call. You can set up an auto-attendant system that allows you to decide whether or not to answer a business call.
Business contact information may be protected from leakage in the case of a lost or stolen phone, thanks to iPlum's secure channel. Additionally, customers can hide the names of their contacts from incoming calls and SMS messages.
Virtual business phone line
iPlum provides its customers with a virtual business phone line in addition to a secure messaging channel. iPlum employs a cloud-based phone system that makes it possible to make and receive calls anywhere without worrying about network connectivity.
An on-premise system can't deliver an on-the-go solution's mobility and flexibility. It doesn't require any hardware because it is offered through the internet for a reasonable price.
Secure lines and crystal-clear call quality are hallmarks of conventional landlines, and virtual phone systems combine these with the portability and flexibility of current online services. Unlike traditional phone systems, which are limited to a single location, a virtual phone system may offer businesses a more comprehensive range of services.
When faxing was first invented, the typical fax machine and a phone connection were necessary. Today, you don't need one even if the recipient is still using a traditional fax machine. Internet faxing eliminates the need for high-priced, complicated gear. As the name suggests, this service converts your papers to fax-machine-readable format and the other way around.
Fortunately, there isn't a steep learning curve to get started. All that is required is an iPlum faxing software and an internet connection.
It's hard to beat iPlum as a secure, easy-to-use way for legal firms to stay in touch with their clients while also keeping them informed on the progress of their cases. There is no longer a need for clients to go through their inboxes to find out when they have an appointment or for you to play phone tag to get critical paperwork signed. Using iPlum to foster attorney-client privilege and leave a lasting impression might be a game-changer if you're a law practice.
Sign up to learn more about iPlum and interact with your clients securely.