A lot of law firms create smart phone apps that clients can use in case of a car accident. Such apps are a win-win proposition; clients can see what information they should gather in an accident and have a place to store it, and law firms have a wonderful branding/marketing opportunity. Also, the client is very likely to contact the firm immediately after the accident. However, when looking at the various apps out there, I have seen problems that make my hair curl…well get curlier.
I saw one app with numerous spelling errors. Hardly a professional way to introduce yourself to potential clients. I have also seen apps with clear ethical issues. Even worse, I have seen many apps with a record function. Here in Pennsylvania, as I have discussed before, it is crucial that all parties be notified that they are being recorded, yet there is no warning in the app that the user should notify others they are being recorded. I imagine many people, not knowing the law, would simply hit record without any thought of warning the people s/he is recording.
If your firm hires a company to create an app, it should think carefully about whether it wants to include a record feature. And if such a feature is included, and the law firm practices in a state that requires all parties be notified about a recording, it is crucial that the app plainly warn the client about the necessity of that notification. In addition, remember that the attorney who takes responsibility for the app (one attorney must take responsibility for all forms of marketing) should review the app for any errors as well as ethical concerns.
Don’t risk making your clients’ problems worse by setting them up for a felony. Also, don’t risk ethical problems for yourself, make sure that you go with an app provider that knows what it is doing.
As a side note, I don’t make smart phone apps, but if you need a recommendation for a vendor drop me a line and I will send you one.