Can lawyers text potential clients?

First Amendment scholar David L. Hudson, Jr. examines the ethical implications of lawyers using text messages to advertise their services.

“[First Amendment expert Rodney A. Smolla, dean of the Widener University Delaware Law School], who has represented lawyers charged with violating advertising rules, says the key question involving texts is whether “to treat a text message as a targeted written communication or as a real-time electronic communication.” He says that because texts “can easily be ignored—and given that the interaction is not typically understood as in real time, such as a phone call or a live electronic chat—many bar authorities, and indeed First Amendment principles, should allow such lawyer-initiated texts.”

However, [Keith Swisher, a legal ethics professor at the University of Arizona] says lawyers should give recipients an opportunity to opt out of receiving such messages. “Because text messaging is such a direct, arguably invasive and almost real-time communication, it is preferable where possible to give the recipient the ability to consider the communication and then take the next steps, if any,” Swisher says.”

Read the full article in the ABA Journal.

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