Web apps have become a necessity for today’s savvy law firms. For example, 150,000 legal professionals in over 90 countries use cloud-based app Clio to manage everything from client billing to case details. Other apps, like business text messaging platforms, empower law firms to centralize and improve their client communications.
Law firms that haven’t yet adopted business SMS might be worried about compliance with federal and local regulations. After all, the legal industry is carefully monitored, particularly in regards to client communications. But law firms are expected to adopt new technologies like business SMS. In fact, as per ABA’s Rule 1.1, comment 8, lawyers must learn about both “the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” Thirty-seven states, and growing, have even adopted technical competence requirements.
Read on to learn how to use business text messaging for law firms while staying compliant with all relevant regulations.
Use a Work Phone Number
First and foremost, do not send any texts to clients through your personal phone number. Texting with clients through a personal number prevents your firm from tracking messages—which is critical for compliance.
Instead, use a business text messaging platform. Most law firms have a landline, toll-free, or VoIP number that your business SMS provider can quickly text-enable. During this process, clients can still call your landline. After the process, they can either text or call your firm. A business SMS provider can also give you a brand-new number if you need it.
Additionally, while business text messaging platforms offer a shared inbox for team collaboration, they also allow managers to restrict access to client messages. Business text messaging platforms provide advanced roles and permissions capabilities, so managers or partners can determine who sees which messages. If a team member leaves your firm, the platform can block access and remotely wipe data from smartphone apps.
Don’t Send Sensitive Case Details
Text messages can be shared via screenshots without your legal team knowing it. In that sense, business text messaging is similar to email. A stranger can pick up someone’s phone and view the texts or emails with ease. Because of these restraints, business text messaging is best used for non-sensitive case or client information.
Instead, most law firms use business text messaging for:
- Scheduling meetings or court dates
- Sending meeting notifications
- Sharing paperwork links and deadlines
- Providing billing reminders
- Informing clients about case details available on a secure portal
Legal teams can send these simple messages en masse. Staff members can choose a list of recipients, select or create a template, and click “send.” Your business text messaging platform uses merge tokens to draw data from each list member’s custom fields. Then, it adds personal information to the text, like first names and case numbers. Mass texts reduce the chance of making simple human errors, like inserting the wrong case number into a text.
As long as your law firm avoids sending case details, you should be able to remain compliant when it comes to legal industry regulations.
Ensure Clients Opt In
Law firms have to contend with ABA regulations, but there are federal and local texting regulations, too. While your team should carefully review that legislation, you’ll find that there are three key ways to stay compliant:
Secure Client Opt Ins
Before your team starts sending paperwork reminders, ensure that your clients opt into your texting service. Clients must opt in with either a specific, texted-in keyword or a web form. Once clients opt in, send a confirmation text.
Emphasize Opt Out Options
It should be easy for clients to opt out of your texting program. In your opt-in confirmation text, explain the opt-out process. Additionally, ensure you choose a business text messaging platform that will automatically opt out customers who text in keywords like STOP, STOPALL, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, END, or QUIT.
Set Clear Expectations
Clients must know what they should expect when they opt into your law firm’s business SMS program. In your business text messaging verbiage, mention when you will text clients and what content you will send them.
Top business text messaging platforms will integrate with your favorite practice management software, like Clio. This kind of integration offers many benefits, one in particular which helps law firms stay compliant.
A Clio integration will allow your team to automatically log client-facing texts to the appropriate contact and case in your CRM system. This makes it easy to access and review all of your client messages. While this feature is often used for billing purposes, it is also a great way to monitor all of your client conversations for compliance issues.
By adding this extra step of compliance protection, you’ll keep your law firm on the right side of the law—while improving the client experience.
Have more questions about compliance? Let’s chat.