The Complete Guide To Credit Card Processors for Law Firms

When we started assembling this guide, our impression was that many attorneys and law firm administrators started investigating their options for credit card processors and were quickly overwhelmed by the variables, the complexity of pricing structures, and the difficulty of pinning down information. Once we started asking questions, though, a different pattern emerged: one that suggests that the impediments arise earlier in the process, and the deeper comparison rarely gets off the ground.

Most of the attorneys we talked to admitted that they hadn’t researched particularly thoroughly. In some cases, that meant defaulting to a known provider. In others, it meant comparing just two providers. Nearly all of the lawyers we talked with said they’d only considered two factors (more on those in a second) when choosing a credit card processor. Still, some followed up the information about which provider they were using and why with some version of, “Actually, I should probably revisit…”

The reticence about diving into a comparison isn’t entirely misplaced. A thorough analysis can get complicated, and credit card processors aren’t known for simplicity or transparency. We hope this guide will help in two ways.

First, we’ve untangled some of the complexities that make comparison difficult, like differing pricing structures. We explain the differences, provide summaries of some of the most popular options (to make assessing providers easier), and offer a quick checklist of questions to ask and variables to consider, so you can shop more efficiently and with greater confidence.

Second, we’ve made it easier to cut to the chase if you don’t want to wade into the details. For those who do want to dig in and weigh some (or all) of the often-overlooked factors, we provide an overview of each issue and key questions to ask. For those who want a good deal and a reliable provider, but don’t want to spend a lot of time learning about the payment processing industry and researching providers, we offer suggestions based on some very basic information about your firm, such as the dollar amount you process each month or year.

If you opt for the latter, simplified route, you can do it guilt-free–we’ll show you why it’s totally fine to choose not to get into the weeds if you don’t have the time or inclination.

The Two Factors on Everybody’s Mind

The attorneys and law firm administrators we talked to almost universally told us they’d based their decision about which payment processor to use wholly or almost entirely on two factors: bar compliance and pricing. The general sense most attorneys had was that everyone was selling the same service. That left trust compliance as a threshold issue and pricing as the main differentiator.

Bar Compliance

The key regulatory issue for attorneys choosing a payment processor is whether that processor can keep trust deposits intact. The standard means of processing credit and debit card transactions involves the processor deducting a fee directly from the funds transmitted. For most businesses, that doesn’t present a problem. But, when a client pays an unearned retainer or a third party transfers funds destined for the client, the full amount of that deposit must remain in the law firm’s client trust account until those funds are appropriately disbursed. The percentage that’s deducted as a processing fee is small, but that doesn’t matter–no portion of those funds may be used for operating expenses unless and until they’ve been earned and transferred to the operating account.

This concern drives many law firms to default to choosing LawPay. LawPay was one of the earliest payment processors to offer a bar-compliant option to law firms, and promotes the fact that the technology is “vetted and recommended by 50 state bar associations.” That’s comforting information for attorneys uncertain about the technical aspects of compliance, and many stop the analysis there. But LawPay isn’t the only option for law firms accepting trust deposits via credit card, debit card, or e-check.

There are several legal-specific processing options, including one that’s been around for nearly two decades. And, some broader-spectrum credit card processors also offer bar-compliant billing to law firms. Later in this guide, we’ll look at several options in more detail. So, while there’s nothing wrong with defaulting to the pre-approved option if you choose, you have other options if you want to consider other variables before making a decision.

What Makes Some Processors Bar Compliant and Others Not?

Instead of deducting the fees directly from the funds deposited, compliant providers deposit the full amount of the deposit into the law firm’s trust account. Then, rather than deducting fees directly from each transaction, they charge fees to the firm’s operating account.  Trust transactions remain intact. Some providers debit those fees immediately as transactions are processed, while others aggregate them and invoice and charge the operating account at intervals–usually monthly. The key is that they deduct fees from the operating account only.

Some general providers, including FattMerchant and CardPointe, offer compliant services. But, if you’re working with a provider that says it can offer bar-compliant processing but isn’t a legal-specific processor, watch your early transactions and make sure the set-up is complete. While some non-legal providers have the capacity to offer compliant services, it’s not their standard set-up, and you’ll want to verify that they’ve set up your accounts correctly. At least one of our members reported having to contact their provider for a fix after noticing that fees weren’t being processed correctly. And, don’t assume that a processor marketing specifically to law firms on its website or in advertising will automatically be compliant–ask specific questions to ensure that the provider meets your bar requirements.


Cost is another obvious consideration, and the one most of the firms we talked with looked at as soon as they verified that a provider was bar compliant. But, price comparison for credit card processing isn’t as simple as it might sound. While price comparisons for most goods and services are fairly straightforward, different billing models and possible add-ons associated with credit card processing can make the analysis more complex.

In fact, many attorneys we talked with said their billings often seemed to be a bit more than they anticipated, and they didn’t know exactly why. We heard that type of comment from firms using several different providers, so the confusion seems to lie in the models, and not in an issue with a specific processor.

If you’ve used a simple provider like PayPal or Stripe, you’re probably accustomed to a flat fee per transaction plus a percentage. The numbers vary slightly, but are typically in the neighborhood of $.30 plus 2.9% of the transaction. That’s straightforward and predictable, but it can also work out to be more expensive than the more sophisticated pricing systems employed by most trust-compliant providers.

The two basic billing models for law firm credit and debit card processors are transaction fee plus a percentage–similar to the payment service provider model mentioned above, but typically with different rates based on the type of transaction–and a monthly subscription fee plus interchange fees. But there are multiple variations on each of these models.

LawPay is one provider that uses a transaction-plus-percentage model, but that doesn’t mean all transactions are charged at the same percentage. For example, as of this writing, LawPay charges a $20/month fee, plus processing fees of 1.95% for Visa, Mastercard and Discover transactions. For American Express and P-Card transactions, the fee is 2.95%. Then, there’s a $.20 fee for each transaction. But, there are also “pass-through” fees associated with some transactions–extra charges associated with the type of card or transaction that are passed on to the customer. Pricing for e-check transactions is completely different, and a flat fee of $2 covers any transaction of up to $5,000.

In contrast, FattMerchant, a non-legal-specific provider, is one example of the subscription plus interchange model. FattMerchant charges a $100/month subscription fee for customers processing up to $500,000 annually. The subscription fee is higher than that charged by LawPay and other providers employing the predictable-fee model. But there’s no mark-up on the interchange fee. You’ll pay the card issuer, association and bank fees plus a transaction fee of $.08-$.15 per transaction.

These interchange and related fees are at the root of much of the confusion about billing. While some processors set a flat percentage (like PayPal) and others vary the percentage based on the card category (like LawPay), the actual underlying fees vary significantly. And, while providers often talk in terms of the fee charged by the credit card issuer, the total fee actually includes fees from the issuer, the association (such as Visa or Mastercard), and one or more banks involved in the transaction. And, the variation doesn’t end there. Different Visa cards trigger different fees, even when the card issuer is the same. For example, it costs more to process a transaction with a rewards card–the issuer isn’t absorbing the cost of the benefits going back to the cardholder. Business cards are typically more expensive to process, as are international cards. This is true for MasterCard, American Express and others. Whether it’s cheaper for a firm to go with a predictable percentage and lower monthly fees, or pay actual interchange fees, depends on a variety of factors. Some factors, such as annual or monthly volume, are easy to assess. But others, like the type of cards most often used by the firm’s customer base, may not be readily apparent.

And, there are several components to consider: a possible monthly or annual fee, the percentage-based charge, a flat per-transaction fee, and potentially other add-on costs such as equipment and fees for access to specific features. There may also be considerations specific to your law firm’s patterns. For instance, most providers charge a flat fee for e-checks, but a minority charge for them on a percentage basis. If you process a lot of e-check transactions for more than a few hundred dollars, percentage-based pricing can be considerably more expensive.

In short, it’s complicated. The good news is, you likely don’t need to understand the minutiae to make the right decision in terms of pricing. And, unless your volume is high, the difference in pricing may be small enough that it doesn’t warrant a significant amount of time and analysis. For those who don’t want to get tangled in the weeds of calculating pricing benefits for different providers, we’ve broken out a few key considerations and made some recommendations in the last section of this guide.

Additional Factors You Should be Considering

Bar compliance and pricing often eclipse other considerations in choosing a credit card processor. But that oversimplification may be the reason so many law firms are unenthusiastic about their payment processors. There’s more to think about when you’re shopping for a payment processor. Of course, not every consideration on this list will be of high importance to your law firm. Still, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with the variables, so that you can make a conscious decision about which factors matter most to you.

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Payment Types Accepted

Currently, the payment types accepted are similar for most providers we looked at. The standard line-up includes Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and e-checks. While most legal-specific providers tend to stick close to the most common/traditional payment methods, some general providers like Stripe offer a much wider range of options. Other providers have hinted at expansions in the works or under consideration.

For most law firms, this won’t be a significant consideration in the short term, since the vast majority of law firm transactions currently involve traditional credit or debit cards, or e-checks. However, norms and customer expectations are evolving. Mobile payment methods such as ApplePay are growing in popularity, particularly among young adults. If you work with a young or tech-savvy clientele or are hearing requests for a wider range of options, ask for a full list of payment types a provider can accommodate, and get a feel for their agility and inclination to keep expanding the options.

This is also a factor to keep in mind when you make your annual assessment to determine whether your current payment processor is still right for you. Since payment options and customer expectations are changing, pay attention to any requests you get for alternative payment methods, and consider adapting when your clients begin asking for new ways to pay.

Payment Methods Offered

Most law firm credit card payments are completed online, but that’s not the only option. Many credit card processing providers still offer the option of physically swiping a credit or debit card. However, that option isn’t universal, and the specific options they offer vary. For instance, some provide point-of-sale (POS) transaction terminals or swipers to their customers as a matter of course. Others can provide them upon request. Whether or not the processor charges for this equipment depends on a variety of factors, including the processor and the number of terminals required.

How important access to a physical terminal or swiper is will depend more on your business model than anything else. If you routinely accept payments from clients in the office, then you may favor a physical option. But many firms don’t use the physical equipment, even if it’s provided, opting instead to manually enter credit card information when a client makes a payment.

If this matters to your firm, make sure to ask about it early in your vetting process. A small number of providers are all digital, and don’t offer point of service (POS) solutions at all. As the trend toward digital transactions continues, that number will likely grow.

PCI Compliance and Support

While bar compliance is the number one consideration for most lawyers, few mention PCI compliance. If you just thought, “Wait, what’s that?” you’re not alone. Even attorneys who know a little about PCI compliance often assume that when they hire a payment processor, the provider takes care of all that. To a degree, that’s true. But, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your provider is compliant and that you don’t fall out of compliance through integrations or internal processes. And, you will typically be required to validate PCI compliance annually with a self-assessment.

Some providers offer optional assistance (with or without an upcharge). Others can connect you with an outside partner. Not all providers offer help with this process. Still, working with a PCI-compliant provider that accepts and stores credit card data securely without it passing through your servers simplifies the validation process considerably. Most of the metrics remaining for assessment are relatively straightforward, such as strength and security of passwords and a policy that does not involve retaining credit card information. However, requirements differ somewhat depending on factors such as whether you are using a POS terminal or whether all payment information is entered directly through a third-party site.

Standards also differ based on the number of transactions processed in a year. Most law firms will be Level 4 (the least exacting), which covers businesses processing up to 20,000 transactions annually.

Contract Terms

When you’re choosing any type of provider, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re agreeing to before you make a final decision. As attorneys, we all know this. Still, a surprising number of law firms find themselves locked into contracts or being assessed fees they weren’t aware of, because they didn’t read the fine print when signing up for a new service.

One item you’ll always want to check is whether there is a lock-in period. If there is, find out what will happen–that is, how much it will cost you–if you terminate early. No matter how thoroughly you assess your options in advance, unanticipated issues may arise, or your needs may change. When that happens, the last thing you want is to discover that you have nine months remaining on a contract or that you’ll have to pay a hefty fee for early termination.

Fortunately, the trend among credit card processors is away from minimum commitments, and you’ll likely have your pick of providers willing to work with you on a 30-day or next-calendar-month cancellation basis. And, with providers charging solely on a per-transaction basis or a token monthly fee plus per-transaction charges, this won’t be a significant cost issue. Still, make sure to verify termination policies before you sign.

Similarly, it’s important to make sure you understand exactly what is and is not included in the quoted price, what upcharges and additional fees you may encounter, and when they will arise.


If you’re processing a significant percentage of your revenues through a payment processor, it’s important to know where in the pipeline your money is, and when you’ll have access to it. You’ll also want to know as quickly as possible if a payment fails, a client files a chargeback, or another problem arises. While all providers offer some form of reporting, there’s variance in how close to real-time the records are, the level of detail provided, and the flexibility you have to tailor reporting to your needs.

Unsurprisingly, every provider we spoke with used terms like “comprehensive” and “intuitive” to describe their reporting. Undoubtedly, they’re making that statement in good faith. They designed the reports, presumably in the way that made the most sense to them. But some law firms said they found reports confusing, and that it was difficult to sort out where higher-than-expected costs were coming from.

If you’ll be monitoring these reports (and you should), then it’s a good idea to get a look at them as part of your research process, whether that means doing a demo or asking for sample reports.

Options for Integration

Some payment processing solutions are standalone, meaning that payment processing and the associated recordkeeping are all they do. Others can be integrated with solutions you’re already using, such as QuickBooks Online (QBO). Still others are pre-integrated into law practice management platforms you may already be using or may be considering.

Integrating with your accounting software eliminates one step in that process and simplifies reconciliation. Integration with your billing and/or practice management software eliminates another step by tying the transaction to a specific invoice and automatically updating the invoice status.

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If you decide integration is important for you, make sure you ask very specific questions. Some providers say on their websites that they’re “compatible with” other listed software, but that doesn’t mean full integration is possible. In addition to understanding how the products integrate, what information is shared and whether that information flows in one direction or back and forth, make sure you know what’s required to implement the integration. Is it something you’ll need a technical person to handle on your end, or more of a plug-and-play process the provider can walk you through? What support is available if you need assistance with the integration, and is it an included service or will you have to pay for support?

Also, be aware that smooth integration may depend on your own set-up as much as on how easy the provider makes it to integrate. If your books aren’t in order, or are configured in a non-standard way, a successful integration that lets you move forward effectively may require investing in a good bookkeeper to clean up and get your accounts properly structured.

If you’re already using a law practice management platform or are in the market for one, you may want to start there. Several platforms have built-in payment processing features available, though you may have to pay extra to access them. This feature is typically powered by an established payment processor. For example, Clio Payments, Clio’s built-in payment processing tool, is “powered by” LawPay. Practice Panther’s PantherPayments works similarly. And, both integrate with QBO, tying the whole process together from invoicing to reconciliation.

Customer Service

Every provider we talked with mentioned their great customer service as one of the key things that set them apart from the competition. To get meaningful information about service and support, you’ll have to gather more specific information, and perhaps look beyond the provider itself to customer reviews, as well as asking your colleagues about their experiences.

For the most part, law firms we talked to were reasonably satisfied with the service they were receiving. There were a few glitches mentioned, but nothing serious enough that it led anyone to switch providers. But we didn’t hear any raves, either. It seems that customer service isn’t the big differentiator some providers want to believe it is, in a positive or negative sense.

To determine which provider or providers will work best for you in this regard, you’ll want to find out specifics such as:

  • Is all customer service and tech support offered free, or is there some assistance you’ll have to pay for or work with a partner?
  • What are the support hours and days of the week?
  • What contact methods are available for support?
  • Will you have a dedicated account representative as your main point of contact or be calling in to a general help line?
  • What other types of support are offered, such as tutorials and other help materials?

Selected Provider Overviews

There are countless possibilities for a law firm looking for a payment processing provider, especially if your business model doesn’t require that the processor be equipped to properly manage trust transactions. We’ll provide a long (though not exhaustive) list of options you can use to launch your search. But first, let’s take a closer look at some common solutions law firms choose.

LawPay: LawPay is probably the best known legal-specific payment processing provider. LawPay launched in 2009, building on the existing technology and experience of its parent company, Affinipay. LawPay is the easy choice for many law firms, because it has the seal of approval from many bar associations. LawPay also integrates with dozens of legal industry tech tools. Payments show up as pending immediately upon approval, and are typically deposited to your account within one to two days. Reports are customizable. As of this writing, LawPay charges no set-up fees and has no lock-in period or termination fee.

LawPay charges a $20/month flat fee plus processing fees. The headline you’ll get is that the fee for Visa, MasterCard and Discover transactions is 1.95%, while American Express and P-Card transactions are billed at 2.95%. There’s also a $.20 fee per transaction. But, final costs may be higher because there are some “pass through” fees: the additional costs discussed above that are associated with the use of certain types of cards such as rewards cards, business cards, and international cards. For e-check transactions, there’s no percentage-based fee–just a flat $2 per transaction of up to $5,000.

Headnote: Headnote’s standalone payment processing tool launched in 2016. The system was specifically designed for law firms, and is focused on simplicity and transparency. That means seeing “your entire A/R on one dashboard,” instant updates as transactions process, and a quick and easy onboarding process. The company promotes its solution as being as easy to use as PayPal or Venmo, but fully trust-compliant. It’s an all-virtual system, which means no physical terminals or swiping.

That simplicity extends to pricing as well. Headnote told us their goal was to have the most transparent pricing in the industry, and it was certainly the most straightforward we encountered. All credit and debit card transactions are charged at 2.9%, and e-checks at 1.9%. There are no monthly fees, no flat per-transaction fees, no pass-through fees, no set-up fees, and no lock-in period. Custom pricing may be available for high-volume users.

Unlike many trust-compliant providers, Headnote debits processing fees from your operating account as transactions occur, not on a monthly basis.

LawCharge: LawCharge isn’t as widely known as LawPay, but it’s the original legal-specific/bar-compliant payment processing system, developed nearly 20 years ago and widely launched in 2007. LawCharge offers a variety of payment methods, including a virtual terminal, point-of-sale processing and a mobile phone program that allows you to route transactions to the appropriate account. You also have the option of passing processing fees on to your clients, though you’ll want to check your state laws.

LawCharge also works with attorneys who may have difficulty securing payment processing because they work in a high-risk field or with clients in high-risk industries.

There’s a $7.50 per account monthly fee, plus a percentage-based fee and $.25 transaction fee. The percentage-based charges work differently at LawCharge than any of the other providers we spoke with. While there is variation in the percentage applied based on factors such as the type of card and how the transaction is processed, the percentage-based portion of the fee is capped at 3.5%. E-check transactions are $1 per item. There’s no lock-in period. In addition to the monthly and per transaction fees, there is an annual $75 PCI fee.

LegalPay: LegalPay is the law-firm-specific payment processing offered by Monify. They allow firms to determine the account set-up structure, typically with trust account deposits going directly to the trust account and all fees, chargebacks and other adjustments coming out of the operating account.

Traditionally, pricing is on an “interchange plus” or “cost plus” basis, meaning the customer pays the fees from the credit card company and others in the processing path plus a mark-up. There is also a $10 monthly fee. But, LegalPay also offers the option of flat-rate pricing, at 1.9% for standard credit cards and 2.9% for specialty cards.

PCI compliance survey preparation isn’t a standard part of the service, but the company says they will assist upon request, and there’s no additional charge for the service. LegalPay recommends virtual terminal use, but can provide a physical terminal upon request. Earlier this year, they introduced QuickBooks Desktop sync, which pulls invoices from QuickBooks Desktop and displays them in LegalPay’s online portal for clients to review and pay.

LegalPay also offers one unique add-on: $250,000 in cyber liability coverage, which includes coverages for electronic theft, data breaches and more.

FattMerchant: FattMerchant is a general payment processor, but offers bar-compliant processing for law firms and assigns a dedicated account manager specialized to your industry. FattMerchant’s Omni interface offers custom reporting and syncs with QBO. Compliant processing works much like the standard process for legal-specific providers, with funds deposited to the trust account and fees deducted from the operating account.

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The company typically provides POS terminals at no charge, though there may be an at-cost fee if multiple terminals are required.

FattMerchant’s pricing structure differs from others in that the monthly subscription fee is higher, but there’s no mark-up on transactions. The subscription fee is based on volume, and as of spring 2020 is $100/month for firms processing up to $500,000 annually. This fee structure can be a money saver for firms that process a relatively high volume of credit card transactions.

Gravity Legal: Gravity Legal is a relatively new player in the legal payment processing arena, and we didn’t have a chance to get the full details and client feedback for this edition of the guide, but their aim is clear pricing (.35% on ACH transfers and 2.95% on credit/debit cards) and a wide range of payment features like payment plans, evergreen retainers, and subscription billing. You can also easily split a single payment into both operating and trust accounts if necessary.

Stripe: Stripe is a non-bar-compliant payment service provider, so isn’t an option for those who will be using their payment processor for trust deposits. We’re including it in this list anyway because some law firms, especially solos and very small firms just starting out, may be looking for a very simple solution for non-trust transactions. For example, a non-compliant provider might be a workable solution for a law firm that only plans to accept credit card payments for sums already earned, rather than as trust deposits.

You can use the platform for invoicing, or just as a convenient way for clients to pay their bills online. Stripe isn’t one of the cheaper solutions, but pricing is easy to understand and it’s all pay-as-you-go, with no subscription fees or contracts. Most users are charged 2.9% plus $.30 per transaction. If you’re just dipping your toes into the waters of payment processing or have only occasional, non-trust-related needs, Stripe may be a good starting point.

Payment Processor Shopping Checklist

One of the biggest obstacles attorneys face in shopping for a payment processor is that there are too many options and too many variables, and the information is often presented in an apples-to-minivans kind of way that makes it very difficult to assess options side by side. To protect against this, streamline your research, and find the payment processor that’s best for you, take these steps:

  1. Know what’s important to you. Maybe it is just bar compliance and pricing. But, chances are good that there are other variables you care about, such as the ability to integrate with your accounting software or how quickly your funds will be deposited. Every time you visit a provider’s website or pick up the phone, you’ll see and hear different features emphasized and see pricing information structured differently. Know what you’re looking for before you step into the fray, and create a checklist to ensure that you don’t lose sight of those priorities when a sales pitch begins.
  2. Know your patterns. The difference a pricing structure makes to your firm depends in large part on the total amount you’re processing each month or year. Payment types matter, too. For instance, some providers charge only a token $1-2 per e-check transaction, while at least one applies a percentage-based fee to e-checks. If this is a popular payment method for your client base, then that distinction matters; if you only get a very occasional e-check, then the cost difference may be outweighed by other factors. These are just two examples of patterns that may impact the best choice for you. Unfortunately, the person shopping for a law firm payment processor isn’t always the person who is familiar with these details. Either empower the person who has that knowledge to do the shopping, or make sure you educate yourself before making a pick.
  3. Put some boundaries on your search. Reviewing and comparing payment processors could expand indefinitely, with so many options and so many variables. That can mean a lot of wasted time, if you don’t plan your search. On the other hand, becoming overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to consider and providers to look at can push a law firm too far in the other direction, and result in default choices that may not be the best option for you. Once you know what you care most about and what your usage specifics are, choose a small number of providers to look at more closely. You can use this guide to choose them, or ask for referrals from your colleagues.
  4. Have your questions ready. Though you may have some follow-up questions as your discussion with a provider unfolds, most of what you need to know will be consistent from processor to processor. That means you can save time, stay organized, and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks by creating a short list of questions before you jump in. Of course, those questions will depend to a degree on which variables you decide are most important for your firm. In the next section, we provide a list of possible questions as a starting point. You’ll likely want to narrow this list down, since not every item listed will weigh into your decision.
  5. Be prepared to push. Remember that websites are marketing tools and the rep you’ll get on the phone will be in sales mode. In our discussions with providers, we found that the first-round description didn’t include complete details. In fact, it took some focused drilling-down to get complete information about pricing structure from several. Ask very targeted questions, such as “Are the monthly fee, the X% charge, and the $.25 per transaction you mentioned the only fees I’ll ever be charged?”

Questions to Ask Payment Processing Providers

Of course, you’ll have specific questions for providers based on your own needs, goals, and priorities. This is by no means a comprehensive list. The list below is intended to help you gather information that the salesperson won’t necessarily volunteer, and that can make a big difference in the efficiency, usefulness and cost-effectiveness of your payment processor.

Bar Compliance

Can you describe how the process works to ensure bar compliance?

Most legal-specific providers can provide a detailed response, but some general providers were vague and had to go back and find more information. The fact that the sales person doesn’t know doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not compliant, but drill down and be sure.


Are there ever additional charges that you haven’t mentioned? 

Nearly every provider we spoke with answered “yes” to this question, even after having given us a detailed description of their pricing system. Don’t assume that the high-level pricing information a provider offers tells the whole story.

What is the highest rate I might ever pay on a transaction? 

Some providers have hard caps and others do not. But, even those with unpredictable pass-through fees may quote you flat percentages. With the question above, you’ll find out whether these fees apply.


Does your system integrate with (software you want to coordinate) and how? 

“And how” is as important as the base question here, since the term “integration” and other seeming synonyms like “works with” are used in different ways by different providers, and may mean anything from the ability to imbed payment links to two-way sync. Don’t make assumptions about how the two providers will work together.

Customer Service

Will I have a dedicated account rep? 

Many providers assign you a single point of contact, which can make a significant difference in resolving issues–particularly if you have an ongoing or recurring problem. If you’re working with a non-legal-specific provider, it’s also worth asking whether your assigned rep specifically manages legal accounts, since your concerns may be different from those of customers in other industries.

What are your customer service hours? 

There’s nothing more frustrating than encountering a problem when a client attempts to pay, and being unable to resolve the problem for a couple of days. Most providers offer limited customer support hours, but extend somewhat beyond traditional business hours.

How can I reach you? 

While most providers offer support through more than one channel, each has its own norms–and depending on your comfort with technology, some may suit you better than others. For example, Headnote handles most customer communications in-app.

I Don’t Have Time for This! Tell Me Which One to Pick!

There’s some tension for attorneys and other law firm decision-makers around choosing a payment processing provider. On the one hand, everyone wants to get the most out of their service, and no one wants to overpay. On the other, the base services provided by different payment processors are very similar. For many firms, the differences between providers will prove negligible. That’s why we’re suggesting that if you don’t have the time or energy to invest in a deep dive into payment processing options or it just isn’t a high priority for you to ensure that you find the perfect processor for your firm, you go ahead and let yourself off the hook.

We can’t tell you which processor will be your perfect fit, but we can tell you which ones we think are solid options for firms of different sizes and complexity.

If your priority is integrations, LawPay offers the most and most extensive integrations with other tools you may use in managing your practice. If the dollar value of your monthly/annual transactions is high, you may be paying a premium with LawPay. But, many law firms find it worth the added cost to have a wide range of integrations available and be able to rely on explicit approval from bars around the country.

If pricing is your driving factor, there are a few variables, including your transaction volume and the type of payments you usually take. LegalPay, with its choice of payment structures and the ability to adapt as your account grows, may offer the best opportunity for firms that want to keep costs to a minimum. 

The Bottom Line on Choosing a Credit Card Processor

Comparing credit card processors can be complicated and daunting. Unfortunately, that often means those choosing a law firm provider either stay too long with a provider chosen by default, or cut off the vetting process without asking the most important questions.

Before you begin your search, make sure you know which features and variables are most important to you–and which you can ignore in the complex web of information. Then, be prepared to drill down and push for detailed, complete information in the area or areas that matter most to you.

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