State Bars regulate the manner in which attorneys may reach out to potential clients and advertise for their services. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that directly texting a potential client would be a no-no. Well, it is in 49 states, with Florida coming in as the lone exception. As of July 24, 2015, The Florida Bar Association will permit direct texting between law firms and potential clients.
Keeping up with the Times
The vote to permit texting between potential clients and law firms passed with a vote of 8-0. The standing logic had dictated that communication by text message was the equivalent of communication by phone call. Proponents argued that texting was in fact quite different. The ruling appears to agree. “We found that in fact that text messaging is not prohibited in person solicitation and that they are instead a form of written communications that are the same as any other written communications,” stated Carl Shwait, member of the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics. He later added, “We permit emailing, we permit mailing, and other types of advertising, and our committee found after listening to the applicant . . . that they have a new method going forward that is permissible.”
Regulations to Text Solicitation
Although the Florida Bar will now be allowing solicitations via text messages, there will still be regulations in place to maintain professional ethics and standards. Law firms must pay any cost incurred when the recipient receives a text message. Texts have to start off by stating that they are in fact an advertisement. They must also instruct recipients to disregard the message if they have already retained a lawyer. Further, if potential clients are being text about a specific accident of major severity, lawyers must wait 30 days before making contact.