Texting Services for Law Firms

Why text clients? Well, for starters it’s fast and convenient. Clients don’t need WiFi to reply. More importantly texts are read, with an open rate of 98% compared to email, at roughly 20%.

But with pros come cons.

The moment you begin using your personal phone to text clients, you’ve sacrificed your privacy. Reason enough to find an alternative. But the concerns don’t stop there.

Messages will always be held hostage on your device unless special steps are taken to incorporate them as part of the client file, a requirement of OSB Formal Opinion No. 2017-192 Client Property: Duplication Charges for Client Files, Production or Withholding of Client Files.

The solution? A business texting service, like Zipwhip.

If you’ve attended any of my CLEs, odds are you’ve heard me speak about this product. Please allow me the opportunity to refresh your memory with the features and advantages of business texting.

7 reasons to use Zipwhip instead of your phone

  1. Your privacy is protected. Zipwhip sends and receives texts using your existing landline, VoIP, or toll-free number – not your personal cell.
  2. Text conversations in Zipwhip can be easily saved in PDF format and stored in the client file. Using cloud-based practice management software? Automate this step with Zapier.
  3. Any authorized person can login to the Zipwhip desktop app to send or receive messages, allowing improved access to client communications. Out of the office? Use the mobile app.
  4. Appointment reminders or other messages can be scheduled in advance using built-in templates. Auto replies and group texting are also available.
  5. Take advantage of the unlimited contacts feature to easily add important details to contact cards. Search for individuals or groups.
  6. Integrate texting into your firm website by adding a “click to text” button for clients.
  7. Easily receive (and file) photos sent by clients, investigators, or experts.

Security

Security is always a concern with client communication. Zipwhip offers data encryption in transit and at rest. It also conforms with federal opt-out requirements, includes support for eDiscovery, and offers monitoring for spam and phishing messages. Like most services operating in the cloud, there may be occasions when Zipwhip has access to your content or data. Read the terms of service.

Pricing

Zipwhip plans start at $35 per month. Annual plans are also available. Request a free  trial here. All you need is a verifiable (working) phone number. There is no hardware to install and no need to contact your current phone provider.

Alternatives

If you want to compare Zipwhip to other business texting services, check out these resources: TextUs vs. Zipwhip, Zipwhip’s Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding, and Acquisitions, and Top 30 Zipwhip Alternatives.

Final Thoughts

Business texting offers a huge advantage over personal texting. Consider implementing a solution like Zipwhip, or one of its competitors, to protect your privacy, improve access to client communication, and ensure preservation of messages.

Rest assured, this is not a paid endorsement of any kind. I’ve been a fan of this product going on three years, ever since I first read Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites blog post.

All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis

 

Preserving Mobile Data in Anticipation of Litigation

In a recent post, eDiscovery expert Craig Ball makes the case for routine preservation of data contained on mobile devices. I concur.

The tendency is to dismiss or ignore the degree to which we lean on our smartphones and tablets. We either assume the data is preserved elsewhere or we convince ourselves that mobile devices couldn’t possibly contain anything relevant or unique. Both beliefs are false. Craig’s post is a wakeup call for both law firms and their clients. Consider his key points:

  • Texting has overtaken email as a means of direct and candid communication. No competent business person would never send a letter or email without retaining a copy. The same standard should apply to text messages.
  • Mobile data is accessible and easy to backup using iTunes. (Yes, I know the interface deserves a Rotten Tomatoes score of 0%, but it does work.)
  • Preserving data does not mean it must be produced.

There is much more to this topic, and I encourage you to read the full post.

A Lesson for Lawyers

There is a takeaway for lawyers too. In Oregon, the “client file” includes text messages if they bear on the merits of a client’s position in the matter. This begs the question: are you preserving client texts? If not, look into Zipwhip, which I’ve discussed before. It has many advantages, not the least of which is the ability to save texts as PDFs to the client file.

All Rights Reserved 2017 Beverly Michaelis

Saving Gmail to PDF Using Zapier

Google Calendar in one hourAre you a Gmail user?  Many lawyers are.

Gmail and Google Calendar [sometimes coupled with Google Apps] is a popular alternative to Outlook.  But there is a key issue with using web-based email that lawyers often overlook: messages stored online simply don’t make it to your client file.  If you prefer web-based email and rebel against the idea of downloading messages to a local program on your desktop or laptop, how can you document your file?

This has been a challenge.  Until now.

The Bad Old Days: Saving Messages as Individual PDF Files

Gmail – as stand-alone web-based email – does not offer an easy way to capture a group of messages labeled or stored in a folder online.  If you want to save client emails, you must do so one at a time by printing each message to PDF (or scanning each message to PDF).  This is so incredibly tedious that most lawyers never do it.  Messages are saved online and nowhere else, resulting in non-cohesive client records.

Today’s solution: Zapier

Zapier is one way to solve this problem.  It automatically files Gmail by moving messages for you.  The only trick is the destination, which must be another web-based service or account.  Google Drive and Dropbox are two examples of locations where mail can be saved.  Here is a simple explanation of how the service works.

If you are paperless and storing your client records at one of the supported online destinations, then Zapier can make your client file cohesive.  Everything is in one location and your records are complete.  One of the most popular approaches is to use Zapier to save client email to Dropbox.

Parting Thoughts

“Zapping” your Gmail to the same online location where you keep your other client records seems like a good way to go.  As with any cloud-based solution, there are ethical concerns.

  1. Is Zapier secure?  Zapier stores the data it is moving on your behalf for 7 days, then purges it.  Your credentials are protected by bank-level encryption.  HTTPS or SSL connections are used whenever possible [If the destination app you are connecting to is not HTTPS or SSLZapier cannot “force” that type of connection.]  Users can monitor the task history of Zapier for the life of their accounts to verify activity and data transfer. Read more here.
  2. Is it a good idea to keep confidential and privileged client records in Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, or One Drive?  Yes, provided you supplement the built-in protection of your online accounts with a private [client side] encryption product like Viivo.  Problem solved.
  3. Won’t I just be safer if I store files on my own computer?  This is another way to go, but you’ll be stuck with the one-at-a-time process of saving email as described above.  Additionally, the tide of expert thought is shifting to the belief that cloud-based solutions are superior.  See The great IT myth: is cloud really less secure than on-premise?

 

All Rights Reserved [2016] Beverly Michaelis