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Legal practitioners are well versed in the struggle their clients may face in paying for lawyer payment plans. Depending on the complexity of the case, legal fees can max out the credit cards and drain the bank accounts of clients.

While attorney fees vary and the type of legal services offered determines the cost, attorneys must strike a balance between charging a fair rate for their work and providing financial access to their clients.

For many, offering payment plans could be a solution that allows law firms to assist more clients, while still ensuring they get paid and receive consistent cash flow. While installment payments provide consistent income, it’s imperative this offering fits the need of the practice and is sustainable for the firm.

Before we discuss tips on how to implement installment plans for your law firm, let’s cover some of the benefits and best use cases for payment plans.

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From Free Consultation to Retainer – How Your Law Firm Can Benefit From Payment Plans

Among the stress a client faces in needing legal representation, entering a law office knowing the expense will likely be substantial can cause additional anxiety. During the initial consultation, it’s important to discuss the client’s financial situation to determine what financing options should be offered, along with determining the complexity of the legal matter at hand.

Determining whether or not to offer payment plans involves a number of factors, including the financial health of the law firm, the expected amount of time the case will take, and if the client is able to consistently make monthly payments. Discussing this upfront provides assurance to the client and valuable information to the attorney.

Law firms that offer payment plans can broaden their client base by providing multiple options, and further cement the attorney-client relationship as a trusted advisor, dedicated to resolving the legal issue.

Lawyer Payment Plans for Flat Fee Rates

Some law firms may choose to offer a flat fee structure for some types of cases, as opposed to an hourly rate. For example, many DUI cases are fairly straightforward, and once the attorney makes an assessment of the legal matter, they can quote a flat fee and offer an installment plan to their client when appropriate. It is important to note a disclaimer here, that if a flat fee is agreed upon and the case ends up taking longer or being more complex, this may result in a loss of potential earnings for the law firm.

How Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Benefit From Payment Plans

Criminal cases are often more complex and typically have about an 83% payout rate. A leading reason law firms are not paid by their clients, especially with criminal charges, is typically because the client cannot afford to pay upfront. Offering multiple financing options, including credit cards and payment plans for clients facing criminal charges, can make it easier for the law firm to get paid.

Some cases, such as a misdemeanor, will typically take less time to reach a resolution. After an initial down payment, offering an installment plan for the remainder may be a quick way to ensure the bill is paid. Other types of cases can take much longer to resolve, especially when there are multiple parties involved and regular court appearances are needed to settle the matter. An experienced attorney can usually determine whether the case will be a long-term endeavor, or if the legal matter will be settled relatively quickly and can use their best judgment to determine whether or not to offer payment plans.

Implementing Payment Plans in Your Law Firm

Most law firms offer a free initial consultation and depending on the type of case, will then require a downpayment, and agree on a retainer and hourly rate. Law firms are well-advised to choose a payment processor that can handle multiple payment methods to best suit the needs of their clients. This includes credit and debit cards, ACH transfers, and when appropriate, installment payments.

1. Choose the payment methods you’ll accept

Credit and debit cards are standard for law firms, but offering other options can make the business more profitable and accessible to more clients. For example, accepting ACH payments is a great way to receive payment for larger amounts and recurring payments (such as installments) with lower fees than credit and debit cards or wire transfers. ACH payments are also ideal for installment plans and recurring payments, but any form of electronic payment can be set up as an installment plan.

2. Find the right payment processor

Just as clients seek the right legal counsel for their needs and financial situation, law firms should find a payment processor that will meet the needs of the business. Stax is a reliable, service-oriented partner, offering multiple payment methods, low fees, and no contracts.

3. Set up appropriate payment platforms

In today’s world, the way business is done is increasingly complex, and firms must offer multiple solutions to best serve their clients. A combination of in-person payment terminals and online portals will likely be necessary for most law firms. In addition, many law firms are introducing various ways for clients to pay, including recurring invoicing, text to pay, and website payments.

Determine which methods best suit the needs of your clients and ensure that you give them the ability to remit payments in the ways that are convenient for them.

4. Decide when payment plans are appropriate for your clients

Once you have your payment processor in place, you can determine if an installment plan is appropriate for your clients. Depending on the types of cases your law firm handles, this could be either a regular or fairly rare occurrence.

Whether billing hourly after a retainer is paid, charging a flat fee for certain services, or a combination, Stax can assist your law firm in accepting all types of payments.

Plus, Stax offers live, U.S.-based customer support – and similar to the service you provide your clients, we are here to help determine the best options for your law firm.

Beyond sound legal advice, offering payment plans is one of many ways you can best serve your clients, and Stax is here to help.

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