We get it. As a lawyer, you’re there to serve your clients and fight for justice, which is why attorneys say that asking for a payment is one of the toughest parts of their jobs.
Asking for credit card or bank routing information can be even more daunting. For instance, as lawyers Andrea Goldman and John W. Marshall once wrote for the Massachusetts Bar Association, “Many of us have been debating whether we should take credit cards for quite some time. On the one hand, there’s a stigma attached to accepting credit cards. For lawyers, it does not feel entirely professional or dignified to reduce one’s payment to such an obvious process. Most of us do not like asking for money. It’s more comfortable to work on retainer or send out a bill with the hope of getting paid.”
However, just as with any profession, lawyers need to pay their bills and put food on their tables. And by not accepting credit cards or eCheck payments, they’re missing out. In fact, a study by Intuit estimates that businesses that don’t accept credit cards lose out on approximately $7,000 in sales each year.
Since 1974, the American Bar Association has approved attorneys accepting credit card payments for their fees. However, you still need to do it right. There are ethical considerations to keep in mind and processes to put in place. And then there’s the fact that payment processing is yet another form of technology you’ll have to figure out.
So, you might be thinking, “Why even bother?”
First of all, let’s face it: We live in a near-cashless society where people pay for everything with credit cards these days (even their $4 Starbucks fix in the morning.) Also, your clients collect rewards points. If they’re going to spend thousands of dollars for legal services, they’re going to want to parlay that into airline miles or a hotel stay. Moreover, with credit cards, you don’t have to wait around for a check or chase down money after you invoice a client—you receive the money as soon as within 12 hours, which opens up cash flow for your business.
The same forces apply to eCheck payments. People are used to providing their bank account information for deposits and withdrawals. On payday, people don’t cash checks; they have their funds deposited directly into their bank accounts. Even mortgages and other similar payments are frequently connected to checking accounts for regular withdrawals.
As a result of all of these changes in how people actually pay for things, cutting a physical actual check is becoming more and more archaic. So, if you only accept checks, what does that say about you and your firm?
The good news is that it’s so easy to start accepting credit cards and eChecks. It might seem daunting, but once you learn how to use payment processing in your practice you’ll be amazed that you ever lived without it. You’ll not only make collections a whole lot easier, but you’ll bring in more revenue than ever before.