Modern Payments for Law Firms
Law Firms like any organisation in business need to be paid – ideally on time. Not being paid on time can result in your firm having to inflate costs to make up for late payment, or make significant cuts to services (be it for staff or customers) on account of a lack of cash. Using traditional methods of payment such as an invoice and BACS transfer can also leave your firm open to fraud, read more on that below.
The UK Government has consistently worked towards innovation within our payments infrastructure, in 2021 the cornerstone of this was Open Banking. Open Banking enables individuals and businesses to share information and talk across disparate accounting and payment systems, securely, using standardised technologies.
You would be delighted to know that Open Banking is an Enterprise Open Source solution and used by all major banking providers in the United Kingdom. Open Banking is secure, easy to use and easy to implement.
For payments infrastructure we highly recommend BOPP but there is a full directory of Open Banking providers/solutions available here. If your firm has developed a bespoke system, you can still make good use of the API to have your payments solution talk to your billing systems.
Getting Paid On-Time
Getting paid on time is a perennial issue for any business, it is particularly challenging for small business and many law firms have to wait more than two calendar-months before being paid, even for simple matters.
How does getting paid in seconds sound to you? If you aren’t entirely convinced, click on the link and donate some money to BOPP’s charitable partners as a proof-of-concept.
Yes, it really was that easy. Which is why Hayachi are a fan of Open Banking, and BOPP (who we have no other affiliation with aside from being fond of their solution).
It is unfortunately the case that even now Legal-500 firms are still using traditional billing methods which require new customers to manually enter the firm as a Payee with their bank. This can be difficult for customers to manage, especially on short payment-terms of less than 14 days.
For Legal Aid lawyers it is doubly difficult because customers may have visit a bank-branch to facilitate the payment and otherwise lack digital banking services.
Enabling customers to pay in an easier fashion creates a virtuous circle where you are paid faster and your customers suffer less stress. Confirmation of Payee and other Open Banking technologies also enable your firm to setup Direct Debits which are flexible and reflect the billable work you undertake on any given matter.
Sending a paper or digital PDF invoice as is traditionally done can create confusion and put your business at risk, not only of late payment but of cyber-criminals who naturally covet such valuable information.
It is a strange business that makes a point to publish their bank details for all to see on their website. And yet many firms practically do this through email-billing: communicating their bank details in plain-text, to perhaps thousands of individuals.
It only takes one person’s email account to be hacked, through no fault of your own, for your bank details to be extracted and shared across criminal networks. In the unfortunate event that one of your fee-earner’s emails are breached, copy-cat invoices can be sent to existing customers requesting payment into a criminal’s account.
Secure payments are another core part of ensuring that your firm gets paid, rather than having to navigate the difficult waters of a customers insisting they have already paid you, when they have in fact paid a third-party.
Open Banking enables your business to accept payments, oddly enough to only your accounts, fully integrating with a customer’s banking systems and protecting against fraud, or humble human error.
Digital payments prevent unnecessary sharing of sensitive information such as your own bank details and integrate into your (hopefully) automated Practice Management Systems, avoiding duplication of effort and work.
Modern payments for law firms are also secure payments, secured through open standards which are supported and built-upon by every high street bank in the United Kingdom and a flurry of established payment providers.
Being able to send secure payment links (or QR codes) which facilitate payment within seconds is invaluable for any business, especially law firms who are often paid late regardless of size or PQE.