For past Make Money Monday posts — which offer quick tips on how to boost your law firm’s revenues — I’ve found inspiration from tech start-ups, the pizza business, transportation industry, and fashion — just about anywhere else than the public sector. But today, that’s no longer true – because the tip that I offer comes directly as courtesy of Law 360, that describes how courts are using text messaging to remind litigants to their obligation to appear. In use for just a year, the texting programs have already boosted appearance rates in various jurisdictions by 25-30 percent. Though the program comes at a price, the Hennepin County Court system in Minnesota estimates that it has saved $1.7 million in jail costs that would otherwise apply if a defendant fails to appear and is subsequently arrested.
What the courts learned from implementing the text system is this: most people want to honor their obligations to appear. But notices get lost in the mail, and people get busy so they forget. Or they lose the court’s address. The list of minor issues goes on ad infinitum. Texting won’t help with those who seek to evade their obligations – but it offers a solution for well-intentioned, honorable people whose to do list is too long and who are trying to take care of everything on their own.
The lesson from the courts is so clear that I shouldn’t need to spell it out. But I will:
If you are not using a scheduling system with a feature that automatically texts clients to remind them of consultations, you are leaving money on the table. If you do not text clients an electronic payment link when they owe money on their bill, you are leaving money on the table. If you do not respond to texts from clients with quick questions such as how to get to the courtroom or where to park outside your office, you are leaving money on the table.
You don’t need to do anything special or costly to integrate texting into your firm. Many of these self-scheduling and calendaring tools include a feature that automatically texts reminders. In fact, I did a video demo of Calendly that offers these features. Some of the cloud-based case management tools offer text reminders – I saw some of those features at a MyCase demo at tech show and I’m sure some of the other cloud-based LPM tools have similar features.
Text message to lawyers who aren’t already texting updates or otherwise communicating with clients by tech: the courts are doing it so you’re already behind.