Comment: Four ways texting can make life easier for lawyers

by Allison Key*, Account Executive at Zipwhip
Attorneys and businesses in the legal field are always on the lookout for the most effective form of communication for both potential and existing clients. Currently, many if not most law firms are using live chat to communicate with their clients. While online chat does provide a fast and easy communication method for lawyers to connect quickly and proactively, most chat platforms time out after only a few minutes of activity and records of the conversation aren’t kept in one thread once they time out.
While live chat has its place in the legal field, texting is the preferred method of communication for most people. In fact, Americans on average text at least twice as much as they call according to Nielsen. And in recent years, we’ve seen this trend migrate from peoples’ personal lives into their work lives, with 80 percent of people using texting for business according to a recent study.
So how can the legal industry implement business texting? Some of the biggest advantages include:
If all of your clients are already texting, communicating with them that way just makes sense. Especially as more millennials get involved in the legal industry (both in terms of employment and using legal services), it’s imperative that attorneys utilize their preferred method of communication. Why wouldn’t they? With cell phone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchanging an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day (according to Pew Research Center), it’s clear that it’s the ultimate way to connect with that demographic. Another convenience factor is the constant record that texting provides. Text keeps an ongoing log, in one thread, which means total convenience for both the client and the attorney.
Easier, more comfortable interactions.
Non-English language speakers can have a difficult time talking over the phone. Being able to easily text their attorneys, on their own time, can be extremely comforting to people that struggle with English.
Texting also provides an unobtrusive way for attorneys to communicate with certain clients who may be wary of phone calls. Many lawyers have trouble getting in touch with their bankruptcy clients, for example. Texting provides a much better client experience overall.
Saves clients’ money.
Failure to appear in court is a hot topic in the legal industry these days. In 2015, Texas justice courts issued approximately 411,000 warrants for failure to appear in court, according to a recent report. At $50 a pop, that cost clients a total of over $20 million. Imagine if law firms could automatically text their client the day before court to remind them of their scheduled court date and time. Little things like that can end up saving people money in the long run.
More efficient intake.
In the legal industry, a sense of urgency is important. For instance, if a person has been involved in a minor car accident and is looking to get an attorney involved, he or she will likely reach out to a small number of lawyers for quotes. Many times, it’s the first firm to get back to them that ends up winning the contract. By quickly responding via text, the lawyer can initiate the relationship in a fast and efficient way. Further, swift responses to a potential prospect makes that person feel heard and valued. This helps to build an immediate rapport with the client and foster sincere engagement. Not to mention that these quick interactions end up saving lawyers a ton of time as well. By exchanging messages via texts, time isn’t wasted playing phone tag and leaving voicemails. 
All in all, business texting introduces an authentic, quick and widely used form of communication to the legal industry. By being able to efficiently communicate with clients and prospective clients, lawyers are able to stay focused and devote more time to what they do best – winning cases. If law firms don’t devote the necessary time, money and resources to implementing this type of communication technology, they may lose business to other firms that will.

Allison Josephy Key is a Sales Manager at Seattle-based business texting provider Zipwhip, where she manages the legal and wedding/events verticals.