Ohio Allows Text Message Solicitation; Will Prospective Clients Assume the Costs?

Can you solicit new clients via text message? A new opinion from the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline (“Board”) says “yes,” albeit with a number of caveats.

For a text solicitation to be permissible, it must abide by all of the applicable advertising rules, which will likely lead to considerably longer messages. Additionally, the opinion recommends that attorneys should not send texts that cause any prospective client to incur charges. Attorneys should also be aware of the age of the recipient to avoid the direct solicitation of minors, and that communications occur only between prospective clients that have previously opted in to such communications. Lastly, attorneys must provide the option to opt-out from future communications.

While the opinion’s requirements are somewhat restrictive in what can be communicated via text message, the Board’s true restrictive measures are relegated to mere suggestions. Because they are merely “practical considerations”  rather than actual requirements, the guidelines create a dangerous situation for soliciting prospective clients.

If an attorney follows all five requirements, he will likely be sending messages far longer than the 160 character-limit of text messaging. Because ensuring that any prospective client does not bear the cost of such messages is only a suggestion, Ohio residents may be at risk of bearing the financial cost for such communications.

Do you think it is fair that the Board does not explicitly require attorneys to assume the costs of their text message solicitations? Read the entire opinion here.

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