In the field of law, tremendous change is taking place. Large conference rooms and typewritten letters are no longer the norms for official correspondence. Clients today expect law firms to provide improved client care, particularly through quick instant messaging technologies. Direct text messaging with clients expedites contact and enables lawyers to deliver their messages quickly and effectively. Additionally, it aids legal firms in providing clients with a better and more useful experience.
Now we talk about appropriate texting practices for lawyers, such as how to handle client expectations and follow suggested protocols.
Four Ethical Guidelines for Lawyers Texting Clients
- Customer service
Despite the fact that you expressly requested texting or SMS conversations, many clients utilize and favor other types of electronic communication tools in addition to email. Instant messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp as well as other social media tools like sending a Snapchat “snap” are examples of this.
It was observed that clients now routinely expect communications to be conducted using more technologically advanced methods. Lawyer texting and secure portals are far more preferred today than they were in the past as accessible means of communication and information sharing. Businesses that adjust to these preferences will draw in more customers and have improved customer satisfaction and referral rates.
But early expectation setting is still essential. Lawyers should at the very least go over the acceptable methods of contact with their clients. Better yet, it would be best practice to include a note in your engagement agreement outlining how you would interact with the client while also cautioning customers that electronic communication might not be safe and that they should take precautions. Establish the stage at intake and stick to it.
The customer might find that medium to be most comfortable and value your assistance. Additionally, information can be forwarded to a more suitable channel if a more in-depth or confidential follow-up is required.
In order to protect client information from accidental or unauthorized disclosure, it is your responsibility as a lawyer to take all appropriate precautions. To comply with regulations, you must make sure that security precautions are taken to protect client data.
Unless the client grants informed consent or the disclosure is otherwise permissible, we must maintain the confidentiality of information pertaining to our representation of a client. While it’s possible to make the case that phishing or hacking assaults provide a significant risk to email and text messaging equally, let me give an illustration of how accidental exposure might be a greater danger.
Let’s look at the so-called “message echoing” example. You communicate with your client via iMessage on your iPhone. While this is going on, the identical application is open on your other Apple device, which is lying open on your home office desk. Anyone passing by could view your entire discussion thread. An email chain that is viewable on a logged-in device could be compared to that.
You’ll be less likely to accidentally reveal private conversations if you configure your mobile device to merely display an alert rather than a message preview. Make sure to remind your clients to maintain the same standards for their own devices.
The human factor will always pose the biggest threat to security and, by extension, confidentiality, even though end-to-end encryption on apps like WhatsApp, iMessage, and Signal is strong protection.
- Be specific about how you will contact your client.
In order to allow the client to make wise decisions about the representation, lawyers have an ethical duty to keep the client reasonably informed and explain a matter to the extent reasonably required. Texting your client can be a wonderful way to ensure promptness, but it’s not the best way to ensure that a needed message is comprehensive.
Consider restricting your text messaging to scenarios that allow for a quick update or the passing along of a straightforward note, depending on the boundaries you’ve set early on. Don’t be afraid to use another communication method, such as email, phone, in-person meeting, or video chat, to continue the conversation if a more complicated question or topic comes up.
Last but not least, regardless of the method of communication, make sure to reply and do so swiftly because great service depends on it. Respond to let them know you have received their message and will get in touch to resolve their concern if your response necessitates sharing a document or a more in-depth explanation. The client will feel heard, and you will be able to effectively allocate your time or manage your time.
- Make documentation simple
Hard copies and digital emails, documents, and other items pertaining to a client are all included in the client’s file. The majority of a client’s file will likely be in the form of electronic communication, it stands to reason. Because the information in the client’s file belongs to the client, the firm is required to give it to them if they ask for a copy of it or hire new legal representation.
It is difficult to save every communication record or representation for future use. Therefore, you will need to set up a system to safely compile all the data and give it to the client whenever they need it.
The EasyPro system is perfect for law firms since it allows for team communication and safe database storage of all matter-related data. All text conversations, screenshots, emails, and other information pertaining to the situation may be simply stored and organized by you and your team on EasyPro.
In a nutshell
The key to providing excellent customer service is to use the appropriate tools to address their requirements and lower their expectations. Since texting is getting more and more common in the internet age, consider how you might benefit from it while still acting politely.
Consider it as a brief communication tool to reassure the client or to prepare the ground for difficult conversations that can later take place in a real-world or virtual encounter. You may continue to fulfill your obligations while using tools like EasyPro to manage data protection and storage. From here, you can easily incorporate safe business texting applications and collaborate with your team to simplify documentation.
Related: EasyPro Features
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