“The New Normal Call”: Texting Clients

“The New Normal Call”: Texting Clients

Last week, Forbes published a contributed piece that considered whether text messaging is the legal industry’s next frontier in marketing. It reminded us of past write-ups on the value attorneys and clients are finding in texting to communicate.

A 2016 contributed article to Bloomberg Big Law Business called texting “the new normal call.” The author, Nat Slavin, a law firm consultant with the Wicker Park Group, stated that while each client is different, there is a consistent preference among so many: They want counsel to get right to the point, replacing long, drawn-out memos with bullets. Said Slavin:

“[The] reality is that even multiple paragraphs in the body of an email fail to deliver on many clients’ expectations around communications from outside counsel.”

A prime example: Slavin cited a conversation with a GC who said that while PowerPoint is “great,” most of the time he simply texts his CEO. That GC added:

“As we get bigger, that doesn’t mean we have more resources. We are actually getting cheaper, leaner and have more coming at us all the time. If a lawyer can’t communicate in a way that makes my life easier and suits my needs, I’m moving on.”

Slavin added that a firm can no longer rely solely on its talent to maintain client satisfaction. Failing to respond quickly or concisely can have an effect. Counsel needs to get real about serving clients’ needs and communicating effectively.

Also in 2016, Noel Bagwell for Executive LP listed his seven recommended rules a lawyer should mind when texting in business. Included among them is an important rule on length: Keep it short. He mentioned he’s had clients who texted as long 2,000-plus characters — the equivalent of 17 tweets! Bagwell advises to send an email if a message can’t be conveyed via a text’s “limit” of 160 characters.

It’s interesting to read the commentary on texting clients early on. There was much greater caution around it. For example, this 2011 Lawyerist.com article led by listing “the problems” with texting clients, including that “text messaging is scary and unfamiliar technology” and “text messaging grants the client too much access and too-immediate of access to the attorney.” By contrast, the article quoted a “young-looking lawyer” who expressed that texting helped him stay ahead of his competition. Bingo.

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