Text-Based Solicitation May Be New Way for Lawyers to Contact Victims

Board has reservations about new court allowance

It turns out that the common cellphone could be the newest and most effective marketing tool for personal-injury lawyers.

While letters are usually the way to forward one’s interest in services, the phone may very well be the newest way to reach possible clients. However, the new possibility has been scrutinized after headway was made in the Ohio Supreme Court.

The court’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline overlooked the new permission for lawyers to use text messaging to solicit clients and have issued an opinion on the issue. The BCGD stated: “The opinion tries to set out the parameters so that everyone plays by the same rules,” according to Rick Dove, who sits as the board’s secretary.

Dove stated the opinion is in an attempt to reflect the changing landscape of technology and the logistics that such changes require. He added that he is unaware of lawyers getting into trouble through texting attempts.

Nita Hanson, who is a Columbus lawyer, raised particular issue with the board after a minor received a text message less than a day following a car accident in 2012.

“It just felt wrong, and I wanted to get to the bottom line — was it permitted?” Hanson stated in an email.

According to sources, the attorney likely obtained the personal information as one usually does, through the police reports that contain phone numbers and email addresses of the individuals involved.

According to the board, lawyers are currently not allowed to solicit their own business or practice through Internet chat rooms or other social media, stating chats would fall under the prohibition against “real-time or live conversation.”

Hanson retorted that text-messaging was tantamount to direct contact, and in that sense no different than visiting the victim at the hospital.

Victoria Nowarah is also not a fan of the text solicitation. She stated she received a message following an accident in December. “I am not sure which law firm it was, but my reaction when I got it was simply a roll of the eyes and an ignore,” she said in an email. “I don’t remember what it said, but I was very uninterested and annoyed they had my phone number and address.”

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