August 22, 2013 Top Story

Need a Lawyer? Check Your Text Messages

Ohio high court finds text messaging an acceptable form of attorney advertising

Natasha Saggar Sheth

With changing technologies come new and better forms of communication and new opportunities for marketing. In an opinion of first impression, the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline deemed text messaging a permissible form of attorney advertising under the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct. Supreme Court of Ohio Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline, Opinion 2013-2.

Nature of a Text Message

Generally—at least in the “usual scenario” described by the Board—“lawyers obtain the cellular phone numbers of prospective clients from accident or police reports” and then send them text messages offering legal services. Without commenting on the propriety of this method of sourcing potential new business, the Board first examined the nature of a text message. First and foremost, a text message is a written and electronic communication, both of which are permissible forms of attorney advertising per Ohio Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2(a) [PDF].

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