Can You Be Fined for Texting or Calling Potential Law Firm Clients?

phone and cup of coffee

It’s difficult to source potential clients as a law firm; however, it’s important to be aware of the risks if you want to text or call these connections. Legal ethics have evolved alongside the digital age and so have the legal restraints that can impact how attorneys contact potential clients. Many firms who have no ill intention may accidentally violate the legal measures put in place to protect people from unwanted calls or messages.

Understand that these measures were put in place to support the general public. Although it may not be the intention of your firm to go against the law like some organizations who attempt to take advantage of the opportunity, it’s still essential to adhere to them. Knowing what these measures are is crucial in order to avoid costly penalties. Luckily, avoiding penalties is relatively easy if you understand what the legal measures entail, the penalties for the violations, as well as alternative measures your firm can take in order to reach your potential clients. To be certain that you’re not making costly mistakes in your methods of contact, it would be advisable to seek out law firm consulting like the kind that Brian Trust Legal provides. Continue reading to find out how you can avoid these costly fines to your firm, as well as confidently behave in an ethical manner throughout your practice.

What Is The TCPA?

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), enacted in 1991, plays a crucial role in regulating the way attorneys and other businesses can engage with potential clients through telecommunication. It aims to protect consumers from unsolicited calls, texts, and faxes. Under TCPA, strict consent requirements are in place; attorneys must obtain explicit permission before contacting individuals for solicitation purposes. This includes using autodialers, pre-recorded messages, or SMS texts for marketing or advertising. Violating TCPA can lead to substantial fines, potentially amounting to thousands of dollars per incident, emphasizing the need for law firms to adhere to these regulations meticulously.

The act not only guards personal privacy but also ensures ethical practices in professional-client communication. Firms are required to maintain updated records of consent and are prohibited from contacting individuals listed on the national Do Not Call Registry. The scope of TCPA also extends to cover the manner and time of such communications, further protecting consumer rights. For a firm, non-compliance can mean facing legal repercussions, damaging both finances and reputation. Therefore, understanding and integrating TCPA guidelines into their marketing strategies is not just about legal compliance; it’s also about respecting potential clients’ preferences and building trust from the first point of contact.

So what can and can’t you do as a firm under the TPCA:

  • Cannot Use Auto Dialers/Pre-recorded Messages: Law firms are prohibited from using auto dialers or pre-recorded messages to contact cell phones or landlines without prior express consent.
  • Respect the Do Not Call Registry: Firms must not call numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry for solicitation.
  • Need for Prior Express Consent: To legally contact someone using auto dialers or pre-recorded messages, law firms must have documented consent from the individual.
  • Potential for Fines: Non-compliance with these rules can result in significant fines and legal issues.
  • Consent is Key: If clear and documented consent is obtained, law firms may contact individuals using automated methods.

How Much Will I Be Fined For Texting Or Calling Potential Clients

For law firms, the financial consequences of contacting individuals without permission under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) can be substantial. Although the exact figures vary, potential fines can range from several hundreds up to the thousands, depending on a variety of factors. This can lead to significant financial penalties, particularly when firms commit repeat offenses. Since the TCPA’s guidelines are designed to protect clients, adhering to these is an ethical concern that your firm should consider as part of their successful business practice.

Honest mistakes do happen, so if your company can prove that it meets all the requirements for the FCC’s “safe harbor” rule – you can potentially avoid these costly penalties. To meet the “safe harbor” rule, your firm must:

  • Implement Written Procedures: Establish written procedures that are compliant with national do-not-call rules.
  • Conduct Employee Training: Provide adequate training for employees on these written procedures.
  • Maintain an Internal Do-Not-Call List: Keep a list of telephone numbers that the organization should not contact.
  • Use Federal Do-Not-Call Lists: Purchase, download, and regularly scrub against the federal do-not-call lists (at least every 31 days).
  • Establish Routine Compliance Practices: Have routine business practices in place that are designed to avoid TCPA violations.
  • Provide TCPA Compliance Training: Offer regular and comprehensive training to employees, including when there are changes in regulations or policies.
  • Practice List Scrubbing: Regularly scrub call lists against national and state do-not-call lists.
  • Error Investigation and Prevention: In the event of an erroneous call, investigate and take steps to minimize future errors.
  • Demonstrate Good Faith Effort: Show that any violation was a mistake and that there are strong procedures in place to prevent such incidents.

How Can My Firm Protect Itself From Potential Fines

To safeguard against potential violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and protect your business, it is crucial to implement clear consent mechanisms on all forms that can be filled out by customers or prospects. This includes ensuring that there is a checkbox or an explicit consent form where individuals grant permission for you to contact them via phone or text. This checkbox should be unambiguous and not pre-checked, requiring an active action from the user to opt-in.

The wording of this permission is key and should adhere to TCPA guidelines. It should clearly state that by checking the box, the individual is consenting to receive calls or texts from your organization, possibly using an automatic telephone dialing system or pre-recorded messages. It’s also advisable to specify the nature of the communications they will receive, whether it’s for marketing purposes, updates, or other types of messages.

Additionally, the consent form should include a straightforward way for individuals to withdraw their consent, ensuring compliance with the TCPA’s requirements for voluntary and informed consent. Regularly updating these consent forms and keeping abreast of any changes in the TCPA regulations is also important to maintain compliance. Integrating these practices not only aligns with legal requirements but also enhances trust and transparency with your customers.

Understanding and adhering to TCPA regulations is crucial for your firm to avoid costly fines and uphold high ethical standards. By implementing clear consent mechanisms and staying informed about TCPA guidelines, you can ensure lawful and ethical communication practices. This not only protects your firm from legal repercussions but also enhances your reputation for respecting client privacy and preferences.

To further safeguard your firm and stay compliant, consider consulting with legal experts who specialize in TCPA and consumer protection laws. Take proactive steps today to ensure your firm’s communication strategies align with TCPA regulations. To learn more about Brain Trust Legal consulting and how they can help you create a worry-free system that complies with TCPA requirements, you can call (855)743-1636 from anywhere in the country to speak with a member of the BTL team.

Ready to take your law firm to the next level?

Newsletter Sign-up

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
@2024 Brain Trust Legal. All rights reserved.