Text messages (also known as SMS, short message service) are a common way of communicating. Instead of picking up the phone or drafting an email, many like the ease and quickness of sending a text. For this reason, many clients text their lawyer in a divorce or family law matter.
Text communications can be short and to the point. Clients can also attach photos and videos to texts. Because texting is so easy, many are looking to text their lawyer about their divorce or family law matter.
Is texting an effective form of communication for clients going through a divorce or family law matter? Like various other areas, there are no black and white rules in terms of texting. There are also no rules or statutes that explicitly prohibit lawyers from texting their clients per se. Some lawyers might be willing to text their clients, while other lawyers might not want to do so. Some lawyers may not even be tech-savvy enough to text with their clients.
Even if a lawyer is willing to text, there are risks that clients should keep in mind
First, texting is often short and to the point, as explained above. The lawyer or the client could misinterpret the shortness of the communication, causing miscommunication, an increase in fees, or frustration. Many conversations instead require a lot more dialogue and analysis than a short text message exchange.
Second, texting is not always the most secure way of communication. Texting is not encrypted communication. This fact makes it easier for others to intercept or read the conversation.
Third, it is possible a client puts the phone down and somebody else picks it up and reads the communication. With texts, it can be quick and easy to see recent communication and attorney-client privilege could be jeopardized.
Fourth, text communication often does not make its way into a client’s file. It can be hard for a lawyer to print off the texts and actually get them into the file. It can be cumbersome for the law firm or lawyer (and expensive for the client in terms of legal fees) to print the text communications. Thus, when a client requests their file at the end of the case, the texts might not be there. As it relates to important matters, the client may want that text communication if they did not retain it on their own device.
Fifth, text communication lacks the formalness of other types of communication. The lack of formalness can cause some clients to say things spontaneously to their lawyer. This can be damaging to the client attorney-client relationship if they are upset or angry about something.
For most clients, if they need to communicate with their lawyer in writing, it makes more sense to write an email instead
Email is typically more secure because it is encrypted. Email is also a bit more formal and allows for lengthier communication. The lengthier communication can often lead to better and more effective communication. Additionally, it is easier for a lawyer to print off an email chain and put that chain into the client file. For most clients, they appreciate this on the back-end when the case is over.
Finally, while texting is easy and convenient, with most smartphones, a client can send an email just as quickly as a text. In terms of convenience, sending an email versus a text is comparable.
Of course, phone calls, video conferences, or in-person meetings can often be more effective than email or text communication. While many clients want instant answers in the heat of the moment, if the situation can wait, the best communication can often take place by phone, video conference, or in-person.
If you are going through a divorce or family law matter, and interested in the communication level you may have with your lawyer, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. You can contact us at 855-805-0595.