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Addressing Four Challenges that Law Firms Face when Choosing and Implementing an Online Payment System

Written by Erika Winston

5 min read
When was the last time you paid a bill by writing a check, stuffing an envelope, and making a trip to the mailbox? If you’re like most consumers, it has probably been quite a while. Digital payments have taken over every industry of business, and though it’s taken some time, the practice of law is no exception.  

Law firms that fail to offer online payment options do themselves a disservice. Most clients prefer the convenience of online payments, and many have come to expect it. In fact, some clients will refuse to do business with a law firm that does not offer a secure online payment option. They want a seamless process with as little inconvenience as possible. By not offering these options, law firms can appear unprofessional and inefficient with a lack of client focus.  

Online payments also help law firms get paid faster and promote greater cash flow for the firm. Electronic payments save law firms a significant amount of time by eliminating the need to transfer cash to the bank or wait for a paper check to clear. With a credit card payment, the funds can be transferred to the appropriate account within minutes, which promotes positive cash flow within the firm. For firms that send out electronic invoices, an integrated electronic payment system can also speed up payments and streamline the accounting process. 

Finding and implementing the right online payment system can prove challenging. This post will explore four of those challenges and offer some suggestions for steps that law firms can take to address them. 


Challenge #1 Finding the Right Features

When choosing a payment processing platform, law firm leaders need to consider the various features available within the marketplace and match them with the needs of their practice. From general payment processing systems to options specifically targeted towards law firms, legal practitioners have a lot to consider when identifying the best option. Here are some of the common features offered by online payment systems:  

  • Credit Card and ACH Payment Processing – Law firms need an online payment platform that allows them to accept both credit card and ACH payment options to accommodate a range of client preferences.  
  • IOLTA Trust Accounting Requirements – Some of the online payment platforms that are targeted to the legal industry have worked with state bar associations to promote compliance with their specific rules.  
  • Management of Custom Payment Plans – With this option, law firms that offer customized payment plans to their clients can easily manage and implement them with pre-scheduled payments.  
  • Recurring Billing Options – This feature makes it simple for law firms to set up recurring billing processes.  
  • Practice Management Software Integrations – With integration capabilities through practice management software, law firms can streamline invoicing, payment processes records management, and reporting.  
  • Website Payment Options – This feature enables law firms to accept online payments directly from the practice website.  
  • Storage of Payment Methods – Clients provide credit card or bank account information to the firm, along with a preauthorization for payment. On the agreed-upon date of the month, the law firm runs the stored payment method. 
  • Batch Billing – Firms use stored payment methods to quickly secure payment from numerous clients simultaneously for faster payment and the promotion of Zero Account Receivables (AR).  


Challenge #2 Protecting the Security of Client Payment Data

Law firms have a duty to protect client data in the most secure manner possible. As such, firms have to be careful to identify online payment solutions that adequately work for the legal industry. Firms need to work with payment processing companies and ACH networks that offer the highest level of security. Features like multiple built-in security levels and Level 1 Service Provider certification help law firms meet their responsibilities.  


Challenge #3 Complying with State Rules When Accepting Online Payments

Law firms are typically required to meet various rules and regulations when accepting and processing electronic payments. State bars have crafted rules for a variety of details, including those related to the handling of process fees to reporting requirements. With so much at stake, law firms must manage a lot when maintaining good standing with their respective bar associations.  

Some legal payment processing software is designed to meet these rules and regulations. They work directly with state bars to put systems in place that follow these rules. These features automatically handle process requirements to promote compliance with ABA and IOLTA guidelines. 


Challenge #4 The Cost of Accepting Online Payments

One major challenge that has kept many lawyers away from electronic payments is the number of fees that can come along with it. When accepting electronic payments, law firms may be charged fees by the credit card company, the bank, and the processing company. Taken together, all of these tiny fees can add up to significant costs. Many payment processing companies can charge 3%-5% of the transaction amount, which can equate to charges between $30 and $50 for every $1000 transaction. 

Some payment processing companies meet this challenge by developing a flat fee system that is easy to understand and calculate each month. For example, users may pay 3.00% + 30¢ per transaction for all credit card transactions and $2.00 per ACH transaction. These companies may assess these charges in lieu of monthly surcharges or other unexpected user fees. Many firm leaders see this as a relatively small price for being paid significantly faster.  


TimeSolvPay Addresses these Payment Processing Challenges

TimeSolv legal billing software recently introduced its TimeSolvPay feature, an end-to-end credit card processing tool that helps law firms get paid faster without monthly fees or hidden costs. To learn more and schedule a setup call, click this website link 



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