If you run an individual law practice or a small law firm, but profits aren’t quite what you had hoped they would be, you may be surprised to learn that accepting credit cards can be the solution you’ve been waiting for. Credit card processing for attorneys can help improve your ability to collect accounts receivable and thereby improve your cash flow and profits. Credit card processing for attorneys isn’t as complicated or expensive as many people think it is, and it has many surprising benefits.
Many attorneys wait until they have finished their work to bill the client, but this opens the door for clients to receive services without paying for them. It is much better to request retainer fees and other advance payments upfront. When these payments can be made via credit card, clients are surprisingly receptive to the idea. In part, this is because they know that if for some reason you don’t deliver those services, they can always initiate a chargeback (disputing a charge) through their credit card company. It also helps that for many people credit cards don’t feel like “real” money, so they are more willing to make advance payments before having received your services.
Small law firms or individual law practices that bill their clients only after they have provided services are often stymied by the need to be their client’s advocate while simultaneously being a creditor. These two roles place opposing demands on the attorney. It is difficult to passionately argue in your client’s best interest when there are outstanding bills to be paid. Both the lawyer and the client feel uncomfortable in that situation. Fortunately, credit card processing for attorneys provides an easy solution.
When you let your clients pay by credit card, you free yourself of the role of creditor, instead allowing the credit card company to play that role. In this way, you can focus on your primary role of advocate, ensuring that you act in the client’s best interest at all times. As described above, this is especially true when you accept the credit card payment as an upfront retainer fee, so that you receive the funds in advance. After all, you can always refund money to your client later, but it’s much better to have the money before the work is done than to request payment (perhaps in vain) after you have finished all the work. Merchant Processing
Many attorneys are leery of letting their clients use credit cards as a payment method, because they believe that their practices are too small to justify the expense of credit card processing, as it will negatively impact their bottom line. They have heard horror stories about the hidden fees and misleading policies associated with traditional credit card processing services, and therefore prefer to rely on cash and check payments. Yet credit cards are often the simplest, most direct way for your clients to pay you, and the process isn’t as expensive as you may fear.
Traditionally, attorneys and other professionals working individually had to secure an expensive, traditional merchant account and then buy or lease a credit-card-swiping terminal. Then, each time they wanted to process a payment from a client, they had to make a carbon copy of the card and call to request authorization. This was not only expensive, but also time-consuming and a distraction from the professional’s main line of work. Fortunately, today there are better options – specifically mobile credit card processing for attorneys.