Online Payments: Why Law Firms Should Use Them
In an era where convenience is the norm, clients nowadays want a payment solution that’s quick, easy, and secure. But not every law firm is open to accepting online payments due to uncertainty and complexity. For the most part, your clients are also consumers who rely on digital transactions to pay bills and complete purchases.
If your law firm only accepts cash and checks as exclusive forms of payment, there’s a good chance you’re missing out on thousands of dollars worth of revenue. In this article, we’ll discuss why law firms should consider accepting online payments so that you can elevate your client’s experience and improve your bottom line.
Why should law firms accept online payments?
There’s more to online payments than the convenience aspect. Here are a couple of reasons why online payments are a smart choice for many law firms:
1. Client payments are more secure
Considering that your client’s information appears on each check in their checkbook, the risk of stolen data increases. Physically writing and mailing a check is also risky since the information is there for everyone to see. The firm is responsible for protecting client information, and checks expose critical data fraudsters can easily access.
That’s why online payments are the preferred option by clients because they are more secure than your typical paper checks. SSL certificates, firewalls, and PCI compliance safeguard digital transactions from would-be hackers, making it difficult for them to obtain client data.
Online transactions are the way to go if you want to protect your client’s information and build trust with them.
2. Transition to modern practices
Nearly every industry is moving towards a paperless work environment, and law firms can benefit greatly from such a practice. Modern software solutions help streamline your internal operations from document organization to payment collection.
Accepting online payments eliminates the need for stamps, envelopes, and papers. You can request and receive transactions through email, which is much more convenient than waiting for a check to be delivered. Updated firm practices can help simplify daily tasks and even generate more revenue for your business, making it ideal for offering online payment solutions to your clients.
3. Streamline your firm’s cash flow
Online payments can make a huge difference to your firm’s cash flow, as clients prefer the convenience of digital transactions over manual check writing. The easier it is for them to pay, the faster you can collect money and scale your business. Like they always say, it takes money to make money, and online payments can save you a trip to the bank and focus more on generating revenue.
4. Elevate the client experience
The legal industry is a client-centric business, and for your clients to keep doing business with you, you must create a frictionless experience. A happy client is a satisfied client, and by offering online payments, you go out of your way to ensure they are content with your services.
Around 83% of consumers prefer to make payments online. If your firm has not yet made the transition, it can be challenging to build a lasting relationship with your clients. Modern payment solutions encourage more transactions, establish trust with your clients, and lead to more referrals.
5. Gain a competitive edge
If the law firms within your area still use traditional forms of payment, you can gain the upper hand by accepting online payments. You can make it a focal point in your marketing strategies to attract attention and position yourself above your competitors.
What’s great about accepting online payments is that you cater to the needs of a wider audience. You’ll be able to take on more clients since your payment options are more flexible than other competing firms. When you meet the wants/needs of your clientele, you give them one more reason to choose a firm they can trust.
What are the online payment options a law firm should use?
Flexibility with payment methods is a key attribute that law firms must possess today. Not every client is the same, and each has unique preferences when paying online. Consider these online payment options for your firm to get paid faster and enhance cash flow.
1. Credit cards
Most clients prefer to pay by credit card because it’s the most familiar option. People use them to buy big-ticket items, cover their utility bills, and, most likely, settle their legal payments. Credit cards make for an appealing payment option that every firm should use to eliminate friction and promote a more convenient service.
What makes credit cards effective for law firms is the immediate reflection of funds to the transferred account. Compare that to waiting for a check to clear, and it’s easy to see why many law firms are starting to accept credit card payments.
Lastly, credit cards eliminate the risk of bad or bounced checks. You don’t have to worry about contacting the check writer and tracking down the client for the correct payment. Of course, you must be mindful of which credit card solution you use since law firms have unique needs than your standard business.
Here’s what to look for when searching for a credit card processor:
- Workflow integration – The credit card processor should seamlessly integrate with your existing billing and practice management software. When your tools work seamlessly with one another, you optimize workflow efficiency and eliminate the risk of human error.
- Trust accounting compliance – We’ve all heard of horror stories where an attorney strikes out by accidentally spending client funds given in trust. The right credit card processor complies strongly with trust accounting to ensure you keep track of client funds held in trust.
- Competitive fees – Most credit card processors require a fee for any transaction they complete, ranging from 2-5%. Choose one that offers competitive monthly and per-transaction fees to maximize your earnings.
2. Debit cards
Aside from credit cards, law firms should explore the potential of debit cards as an online payment solution. Debit cards don’t incur additional interest and have little to no fees, making them advantageous for your firm and your clients.
Clients also benefit from the same convenience, and accessibility credit cards provide, as most people are familiar with using debit cards for payment. The only downside of accepting debit card payments is the potential for bad checks. The transaction gets declined when you pull money directly from a client’s account, and the money isn’t there.
Law firms must assess their ethical responsibilities when accepting online payments and find options that work best for them and their clients. Providing multiple payment solutions can help grow your practice so long as you do your research and assess the needs/preferences of your clientele.
3. ACH payments
Automated clearing house (ACH) payments are electronic bank-to-bank transactions that go through the ACH network instead of card network processors like Visa or Mastercard. Think of ACH payments as electronic checks that are faster, safer, and more cost-efficient than traditional paper checks, making them an ideal choice for law firms who wish to accept online payments.
ACH payments have lower processing fees than credit cards because providers charge a flat rate instead of a percentage per transaction. By accepting ACH payments, the cost reductions add up over time and enable you to pass on those savings to meaningful investments.
Many legal-specific payment processors include ACH as payment methods, with Clio and LawPay as primary examples. These payment processors come eCheck processing built-in, making it easy for you to receive ACH payments from your clients.
Firms that frequently work with large bills will find ACH a fast, easy, and cost-effective option for accepting payments.
In a world where client experiences help shape a company’s identity, accepting online payments is one way for law firms to remain competitive within the legal industry. The convenience, accessibility, and flexibility of online payments are a major draw for clients who want to settle their legal bills with a tap of a button.
If your firm still relies on traditional payment solutions, now is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate your strategy and focus on leveling up the client experience. Hopefully, this article covers the information you need on why you should accept online payments and which options are available to your firm.
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