Ethics Reminders for Lawyers Texting Clients

Question: I feel like I did all I could over the last few years to keep my cell number out of clients’ hands. But I think I opened the floodgates when I recently began allowing clients to text me. The convenience factor and desire to modernize my customer service won out, or at least that’s what I told myself. Now that I’ve opened the door to another channel of communication, what ethics pitfalls might come from texting clients? Answer: In previous articles, I’ve focused on ways to successfully use email — “the grand champion of modern-day communication” – as well as try to get lawyers to ditch email for more secure client engagement (read: client portals). But I’m glad to see the topic of text messaging come up. It’s an important reminder of how we can apply the same ethics rules to novel techniques of delivering legal services. In other words, the rules don’t change, just how we apply them. Let’s dig in! Just as I’ve asserted that secure client portals should replace email communication with clients, text messaging should follow the same logical progression for how we engage with clients and store information on attorney-client matters. So, just as you’d take a call from a client on your mobile device, you may likewise fire off an email, text message or instant message. However, while they may offer convenience, are we sacrificing security and embracing potential ethical pitfalls with what may be sensitive information? Four Ethics Considerations for Lawyers Texting Clients Here are four considerations for lawyers to keep in mind when texting messaging with clients: Customer serviceConfidentialityCommunicationDocumentation 1. Customer Service While you’ve asked specifically about texting or SMS communications, many clients use and prefer various electronic communication tools other than email. These can include instant messaging services like Facebook

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