Digital Payments in the Legal Industry

How law firms are firming up payment processing.

December 2022

<p>Digital Payments in the Legal Industry</p>

It’s good to know a lawyer. It’s even better when that lawyer knows good business.

When it comes to working with legal counsel or serving the client in a sensitive legal matter, time is money. Costs rack up quickly for counsel and client. It’s important to have easy, effective payment processing that makes settling a snap for your practice and the layman.

Good news, we’ve got the verdict on what clients expect. We’ve been watching as law firms firmed up their payments systems with modern digital solutions, bringing order to the court of client satisfaction with faster payment times, multiple payment methods and fewer fees to boot. 

In the Case of Law Firm Payment Processing, Clients Want It

Flexible
According to the 2019 Legal Trends Report, 50% of clients say they’re more likely to choose a lawyer who offers an online payment option.

No one seeks out a law firm unless they need to. During these often-stressful times, life is already complicated enough. You don’t need to make things more difficult by charging hidden fees or relying on limited and inconvenient payment methods. When it comes to law firm payment processing solutions, clients want flexibility. The best way for your law firm to offer that is with a range of electronic and digital payment options designed for the modern consumer.

The convenience of making a legal payment online frees up busy clients who are trying to balance work, family, and other financial demands on top of the already-mounting morass of a legal battle. The 2020 Legal Trends Report makes that clear. It shows that 65% of customers prefer electronic legal payment methods over all other forms of payment.

Electronic doesn’t just mean online, however. Clients prefer firms that accept electronic payments in the office or on-the-go with a payment gateway that takes their choice of credit card, debit card, or even ACH and e-checks that pull directly from their bank accounts. Electronic payment providers can also help clients when it comes to billing and payment plans. Providers can automate and organize bills and payments in a way that makes keeping track simple for everyone. Balances for services rendered are easily accessible and updated in real time, doing away with the back and forth of old-fashioned paper payments and saving more than just a few stamps in the process.

Familiar
When it comes to easy electronic payments, credit card payment options are still the most popular choice on the market today. The ideal solution for many law firms is to work with a legal credit card processing service that knows the ins and outs of the industry.

Credit or debit cards are the gold standard for legal payments; they’re among the simplest payment options available that are safe, speedy and offer heightened data security for legal payments. Online and in-person credit card payments are favored by customers when moving funds because of their reliability, ease of use and knowing how the transactions work. Your law firm likes to accept credit cards, too. This is especially helpful when many don’t know how to pay law firms for legal services or have no idea how lawyers accept payments.

Most lawyers accept fixed fees for common legal services, like a real estate closing, setting up a simple trust account, or drawing a will. Fixed fees guarantee the total cost up front, but clients still need to be careful when agreeing to one. Communication is key to avoiding surprise charges. It’s always a good idea to clearly define what services are and are not included before signing on for a fixed fee.

For more complicated matters or cases without a defined scope, many law firms prefer charging hourly rates or retainer fees for their services. Like a fixed rate, retainer fees are lump sums paid in regular installments for ongoing service. Unlike hourly billing, retainer fees don’t account for changes in workload. The bill remains the same no matter the hours worked.

In some cases, a lawyer might choose to take payment via a contingent fee. Contingent fees are only paid when a lawyer or law firm handles a case successfully. Commonly a one-time payment, these fees are a percentage of the total sum awarded to a client. If the lawyer loses the case, the client gets no money, but they also aren’t required to pay fees for services.

With so many ways to arrange payments, it’s important to trust the business or person you’re paying. Clients should be able to research you and find that your law firm is one of integrity. When clients recognize your legal credit card processor or credit card processors and are familiar with the digital and electronic payments options you offer, it inspires even greater trust in your law practice.

Additionally, the client will see that you and your law firm have invested in payment solutions that matter to them. That their security is being taken care of and that it is safe to pay because they are in the competent hands of a practice that’s knowledgeable of the law and the marketplace that comes with it. Inviting to pay any way they choose—in person or online—caters to client convenience and reminds them which firms have their best interests at heart—yours.

In the Case of Law Firm Payment Processing, Counsel Wants It

Fair
As with practicing the law, accepting payments for it comes with its own complicated set of rules and regulations. Are you familiar with the fee structures of trust accounts? Do you know which states have ethics opinions on credit cards, and what those states will and won’t allow them to pay for?

Use a payment processor. Legal-specific payment platforms can help navigate the complexities of law office payment processing state to state. Tailored specifically to the industry, legal payment processing services help keep lawyers in compliance with IOLTA guidelines and ethical responsibilities, as well as track the potential changes in credit card processing fees and other transaction costs, so you can focus on what matters.

Fast
Paper payments have gone the way of the card catalog at the law library and have been replaced by must-have digital solutions. It may feel noble to be a holdout for the old-fashioned way of accepting payment. But the truth is electronic payments process much faster, are easier to manage, and are more secure. Plus, clients take less time to send money when they have an electronic option—an estimated 40% less time according to the 2017 Legal Trends Report. In fact, the 2019 Legal Trends Report notes that 57% of online payments are paid within a day of billing and 85% get paid within one week.

Working with all-in-one payment processors can also take the time out of time-tracking and record keeping. Integrated payment processing and practice management software solutions are designed to keep track of accounts, billable hours, and beef up bottom lines in a hurry.

Making the switch to digital and electronic payment providers is surprisingly easy. It has helped a host of firms improve their service and stabilize their cash flow in the COVID-19 era. Secure and sanitary payment processing and the option for automated, alternative billing plans eases the demands on your system and staff, providing more options for your customers and freeing up valuable time and attention for more important areas of running your business.

Airtight
With so much on the books, the last thing you need to spend time worrying about is your payment services. That’s why it’s important that your law firm chooses the right provider, one who’s there when you need it.

Key Merchant Services offers email, phone, and chat support around the clock—24/7, 365. Our industry experts know the payment technology and processes to bring the best out of every business. With your input, they can create a tailored plan to suit your specific payment processing needs and help guide you through the transition to easier and effective digital payment processing.

Contact us or visit our Professional Services Payment Solutions center to learn more about our attorney merchant account services, featuring modern payment solutions and software that make getting paid simple.

When it comes to paying out, our Card Services center can help you manage benefits, payroll, expenses, and costs, all while reducing overhead and streamlining systems.

All merchant services, credit, loan and leasing products are subject to credit approval and terms of service.

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Call Us

888-KEY4BIZ (539-4249)

Clients using a TDD/TTY device:
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Clients using a relay service:
1-866-821-9126

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Schedule an Appointment

Talk to a Branch Manager in your neighborhood.

Schedule an appointment now