As text messaging increasingly becomes a preferred form of communication for many, the cloud practice management platform PracticePanther today said it has added built-in, two-way text messaging as a feature available to all customers at no additional cost.

Lawyers can provide the text number to clients for them to ask questions or upload documents or images, and firms can use it to text their clients payment links or documents, with greater assurance that the client will see and read the message than with email.

The service enables lawyers to text with clients without giving away their personal phone numbers. Instead, firms can select a dedicated number for texts that they can then use to send texts from within PracticePanther online or in the mobile app.

PracticePanther users can enable text messaging within the platform’s settings menu. There, the user can search available numbers and select one for the firm’s area code. Everyone in the firm uses the same number.

All of the incoming and outgoing texts can be viewed and managed from a dashboard. The dashboard uses a grid display to show the messages, the participants in the messaging, the matter the texts relate to, and other information.

To start a new text, the user selects a contact from within PracticePanther. PracticePanther supports having multiple secondary contacts within a company, and the user can select those secondary contacts as well as primary contacts.

The user then simply drafts and sends the message. The messaging supports emojis and users can attach files or even payment links that go directly to PracticePanther’s e-payment application. Replies show up in the dashboard and users can also receive notifications on their mobile phones.

In addition, all text-message conversations also appear in both the contact and matter pages within PracticePanther, so the user can see all texts associated with a specific contact or matter.

A time-entry button on the page makes it easy to quickly record the time for the message.

In a demonstration last week, product manager Scott Gartenberg said that the company’s research has shown that text messages typically get a reply within 90 seconds, as opposed to 90 minutes for email.

“The real value of having text messaging in PracticePanther is that firms can text with their clients instantaneously,” he said. “They have this really quick touch point with their clients and everything is kept with the matter, in context.”

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.