Text messaging has become a mainstream form of communication. Clients now routinely text their lawyers about pending matters. They may ask about the status of a case, provide facts about a case, communicate decisions to a lawyer, or message other sensitive information. These messages are often to a lawyer’s mobile phone that is used extensively for personal purposes, unsecured in their transmissions, and easily accessible by third parties. This new wave of lawyer-client communication raises many difficult ethical questions, including preservation of the attorney-client privilege. This program will provide you with a guide to the major ethics issues when lawyers and their clients text message about pending matters.
• Confidentiality issues involving unsecured transmission of texts involving sensitive case issues.
• How to handle mobile phones used for both personal purposes and law practice.
• Potential loss of the attorney-client privilege when text messages are accessible by third parties.
• Tension among the duties of competence, prudence and to communicate with clients.
• Understanding the ethical risks and counseling clients about the risks to their case when texting.
Opinions and positions stated by presenters of MoBarCLE programs are those of the presenters and not necessarily those of The Missouri Bar. This program is intended as information for lawyers in Missouri, in conjunction with other research they deem necessary, in the exercise of their independent judgment.
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