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

 

Auto Update Can Lead to Auto Malpractice

Templates are a great way to create accurate, consistent, and professional forms.  On the efficiency scale, they rate an A+.  So how is it that such a great tool can lead to legal malpractice? 

In Microsoft Word, one culprit is “Update Automatically.”  The corollary in Corel WordPerfect is “Keep the inserted date current.”   Both settings are associated with date and time fields and should be avoided like the plague in most circumstances.  Here’s the problem:

Let’s say you want to create a letterhead template in Word.  You enter the firm information, add the logo, and decide to insert a date field.  In the Header & Footer toolbar, you select the Date & Time button, and click OK. 

 

You think, “This is great.  I’ll never have to worry about adding a date to my letters when I use this template.”

Very true.  But are you getting the result you intended?  Probably not, and that’s where the potential malpractice comes in. 

Take another look at the screen shot.  See the little box, “Update automatically?”  In Word, it’s checked by default.  This box means what it says.  Every time you open or resave a document based on this template, the date of your document will change.  The result?  Your electronic client file is no longer accurate.

What if you could prevent users from opening or resaving documents?  Pretty unlikely.  Even if it were possible, your documents may be at risk from automated processes.  For example, some firms run PDF conversion programs overnight.  The conversion works by opening the document in it’s native application, then printing to PDF.  If the process runs after midnight, the act of opening the document to print to PDF will change the date.

Establishing the date when a memo or letter was written can be key to defending yourself against a legal malpractice claim.   If your office is paperless, a setting like “update automatically” can have devastating results, since there is no paper record to fall back on.  

The Right Way to Use Date Fields

Before using any field codes in Word, you should understand what they are and how they work.  For instance, Word has six different fields under the Date and Time category:  CreateDate, Date, EditTime, PrintDate, SaveDate, and Time.  Each field has a different effect when inserted into a document or template.  Here are the meanings:

  • CreateDate refers to the date the document was created
  • Date refers to today’s date
  • EditTime represents the total document editing time
  • PrintDate is the date the document was last printed
  • SaveDate is the date the document was last saved
  • Time is the current time

When you insert a date using the Date & Time button from the Header & Footer toolbar in Word, you are using the “Date” field which produces “today’s date.”  “Today’s date” will be “updated automatically” if the checkbox is selected.  (The same effect occurs in WordPerfect when you select Insert >Date/Time… >Insert.  The only saving grace:  “keep the inserted date current” is not checked by default.)

It’s easy to see how date and time fields create confusion, and Word doesn’t make the process any easier.  In the Header & Footer toolbar, only “today’s date” is readily accessible.  CreateDate, EditTime, PrintDate, SaveDate, and Time are under the Insert tab.  Choose Insert, then in the Text group, select Quick Parts.  Click on Field…  In the Categories box, select Date and Time. 

If your intention is to insert a date field that will accurately reflect the date the document was created, use “CreateDate.”  Or if date fields give you the willies, the safest bet may be to avoid them altogether and manually enter the date in your documents.

Copyright Beverly Michaelis 2010