Attorneys are now using SMS (short message service) to communicate with clients and prospects. Before you start thinking that lawyers are on the cusp of a cutting-edge communications style, let me remind you that SMS is also known as text messaging. You may be wondering, “how does an article about texting fit into a discussion regarding the legal profession?” Because the law doesn’t always keep up with reality.
As fellow members of the International Female Entrepreneur Association, Kendra Stephen and I recently discussed future trends in the legal profession, covering a variety of topics including attorney use of SMS. Kendra is the founder of hirealadylawyer.com, the only online directory dedicated solely to women attorneys.
Kendra has successfully used technology to turn her boutique law practice into an international virtual law firm. It’s safe to say she’s an early adopter and on the leading edge when it comes to leveraging technology to market her practice. Kendra is full of knowledge regarding modern law practice marketing and management. I would like to share some of the takeaways from our discussion on text message marketing and communication, as it is expected to become more visible in the legal industry.
Why is SMS marketing such a big deal this year?
“SMS marketing is the biggest thing that is shaking up the legal world because it’s opening more opportunities for lawyers in the mobile world,” says Kendra. “Recent bar decisions have given lawyers a major win by allowing them to utilize SMS marketing. Most of us are attached to our mobile phones; it is an intimate communication channel. So I think in 2017, you can expect a lot of activity with lawyers using SMS marketing to get in front of their potential clients.”
How is it a big win for lawyers?
Kendra says: “Historically, the bar has restrictions that do not allow lawyers a lot of modern marketing options. But an attorney can send a text message according to a recent Florida Bar decision. This was a big win for lawyers because we are far behind on marketing compared to other businesses.”
Reflecting on my own marketing techniques, I do not currently use SMS as a marketing tool. While it may be permissible by law, I don’t think it would be very effective with my current or prospective corporate clients. I believe they would view a text message geared toward marketing as a major intrusion and therefore, it would have a negative impact on my ability to connect with them in a positive way.
But that’s not to say it wouldn’t be a useful marketing tool for certain practice areas. For example, in the recent Florida Bar decision that Kendra references, an Orlando law firm with a focus on criminal law presented the Florida Bar with insightful information on how text messaging could be helpful to individuals needing legal counsel, especially those accused of crimes.
Although I don’t currently use texting for marketing purposes, I do use text messaging to communicate with existing and prospective clients. Typically such communications involve scheduling details and other nonconfidential information. I am surprised to learn that some attorneys don’t view any form of texting with clients as appropriate.