A consistent concern I hear from attorneys is whether or not texting with their clients is a good idea. Not only are they worried about giving out their cell phone number, they wonder if they’ll have to constantly be fielding texts from their clients if they open up another stream of communication.
Traditionally, we attorneys route communications through an assistant who can answer basic questions and take messages. This buffer helps us to regulate and manage the volume of communication and keeps us organized.
But forcing our clients to go through an intermediary has its downsides.
For one, clients have forever complained that they cannot reach their attorney. Now in my 24th year of practice and having provided thousands of consultations, I have heard this complaint more times than I can remember. It is often the reason I have been hired to replace another attorney.
So we batch messages and return calls, but all these returned phone calls present another downside—they are time-consuming. Not all communication requires a phone call or a meeting. Sometimes a quick text will suffice and, in fact, is the most efficient way to communicate. Moreover, schedules often do not meet up, creating a game of phone tag that can last for days.
Enter in texting. The modern client prefers texting, but attorneys can be slow to change habits. I’ve found that a brief reply to a simple question puts my clients at ease and conveys to them that I’m aware of their concerns and am working on their case.
Although counterintuitive, texting with your clients can actually cut down on unnecessary and inefficient communication. Phone calls often result in repetitive conversations. Rather than costing you time, texting saves you time.
There are a couple of rules I follow:
First, I never discuss the substance of a case. I will text court reminders, directions, appointment confirmations, my location in the courthouse, and other simple information. Carrying on a never-ending dialogue about the substance of a case invites miscommunication and unneeded stress. I make this rule clear at the outset and have not had any problems.
Second, I only use monikur, an award winning app designed specifically for professional-client texting. Using monikur, I can connect with my clients without sharing my cell phone number. Only those who I invite may send me a text. monikur also provides important availability controls and record keeping tools not available with standard texting or messaging apps.
My clients greatly appreciate the accessibility of texting and I seldom feel like I have loose ends to tie up at the end of the work day. Even a simple “I’ll give you a call in the morning” goes a long way to assuring my clients that I am being responsive.
Used properly, texting fills in important gaps in attorney-client communications by making communication immediate and efficient.