Florida residents, keep an eye on your text messages. They may soon contain solicitations from attorneys looking for new clients.
The Florida Bar announced recently that lawyers practicing in the state are allowed to send text messages to prospective clients, provided that they adhere to the same guidelines in place for written and email solicitations.
According to the Tampa Tribune, the Florida Bar was initially reluctant to allow texting solicitations from attorneys in the state, with some detractors arguing that texting falls under the same category as phone calls. Attorneys are generally prohibited under state bar provisions from contacting prospective clients over the phone, or in person, to offer legal services.
Instead, text solicitations from attorneys will now be treated the same as email messages, with both containing certain provisions, including that attorneys make it clear in the first line of any text or email that the message is an advertisement. The text messages must also notify recipients that they should disregard the message if they already have a lawyer, and disclose how the law firm acquired the recipient's name and contact information.
As The Wall Street Journal notes, Ohio is the only other state to take a formal position on texting attorneys, with the state's attorney regulatory board deciding two years ago to allow text solicitations under similar provisions.