Unfortunately, many attorneys still do business in a last-century way, which is costing them time and money in the era of electronic payments and digital processing. Here are five of the most convincing arguments for why lawyers should be moving to an online payment system.
Online payment processing makes it possible to get paid almost instantly, in virtually any currency and using a variety of payment methods. Set up automatic recurring billing, as well as client-friendly installment payment plans. Those can accelerate the payment cycle while relieving the attorney of the awkwardness of needing to remind a valued client of a payment due. It’s a great way to manage retainer fees, or to accommodate clients who may not have cash on hand. Online payment portals make it easy to get paid by electronic check, ACH transfers, debit cards, and credit cards.
An article published by the American Bar Association (ABA) pointed out that credit card transactions can average as much of 3.5 percent of the payment amount. But thanks to recent court rulings, almost every state in the U.S.A. now allows surcharging, which means it’s possible to pass credit card processing fees along to clients. Affordable turnkey payment solutions are available that guarantee that law firms of any size can enjoy the option of credit card payments while paying zero processing fees. The attorney who is paid retains 100 percent of the payment. That’s almost the equivalent of getting a revenue boost of 3.5 percent, simply by upgrading to a superior payment system.
The ABA’s GP Solo Magazine ran an article in 2017 recommending that attorneys transition to an online payment platform and discontinue the storage of paper credit card receipts. Not only does that reduce administrative labor and help eliminate human error, but it also helps to protect attorneys from the liability associated with lost or stolen credit card data. A secure, PCI-compliant environment with Level 3 processing is also advised, to protect attorneys and their clients from identity theft and other widespread cyber crimes.
Attorneys need to ensure that credit cards payments are accounted for in a way that strictly avoids the unethical or noncompliant commingling of funds. Otherwise they risk violating rules set down by their state bar association or the ABA. That is why, when selecting a payment processing platform, it is best to avoid those that are primarily designed for person-to-person transactions. Those systems typically lack the flexibility and security required of attorneys. Instead, choose an online system created exclusively for B2B, which can direct payments to designated separate accounts. That kind of system can also retain cloud-secured archives of each payment transaction for auditing, reporting, and accounting purposes.
Researchers have found that clients tend to spend more money when they can pay by credit card. There’s less friction with an online payment platform, and it’s also possible for clients to pay remotely, 24/7, using a mobile device. They can receive an instant electronic receipt, making the entire transaction seamless, trustworthy, fast, and effortless. That’s yet another way that online payment acceptance elevates client service while supporting an enhanced lawyer/client relationship.