Friday, April 19, 2013

Texting Prospective Clients OK In Ohio

CNO has this report of a recent Ohio ethics opinion:

Ohio lawyers can text prospective clients if they comply  with applicable rules and abide by restrictions, according to an Ohio Supreme  Court Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline advisory opinion.

Opinion  2013-2 notes that Prof.Cond.R. 7.2, which governs lawyer advertising,  allows text message advertising but “all lawyer advertising, including text  message advertising, must comply with Prof.Cond.R. 7.1 and 7.3.”

The opinion’s ethical guidance examines the implications of  text message advertising in light of these rules.

Under Rule 7.1, “the text message may not contain a false,  misleading, or nonverifiable communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s  service.”

The opinion cites additional requirements under Rule 7.3.  The text cannot create a “real-time” interaction or involve coercion, duress,  or harassment. The lawyer must state how he or she learned of the prospective  client’s need for legal services. A lawyer must verify that a prospective  client who’s a defendant in a civil case has been served. Texts sent within 30  days of an accident or disaster must include the “Understanding Your Rights”  statement in the body of the text and not as a link, attachment, or photograph.

In addition to the requirements under the rules, the opinion  also identified three practical considerations.

  • “First, the text message should not create a  cost to the prospective client.”
  • “Second, the lawyer should be mindful of the age  of the recipient of the text message.”
  • “Finally, lawyers must use due diligence to  ensure that any text message advertisement or solicitation complies with the  applicable federal and state telemarketing laws.”

(Mike Frisch)

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