The pandemic has made it more essential than ever before for law firms to accept electronic payments. Clients who now pay everything else online have no appetite for lawyers who require paper payments. Plus, law firms that accept e-payments get paid faster and increase their collections, studies suggest.
Against this backdrop, the practice management platform Bill4Time is today unveiling built-in electronic payments, enabling a law firm’s clients to view invoices online and make full or partial payments electronically using credit cards or electronic checks.
Bill4Time Payments is available to all Bill4Time subscribers at no extra cost, except for individual payment processing fees, which Bill4Time says are the lowest in the industry.
In addition, in conjunction with the launch, Bill4Time is offering customers who sign up for e-payments a $150 cash-back bonus. More on pricing and the bonus below.
Based on Headnote
Bill4Time Payments is based on the e-payments platform Headnote, which was designed specifically for lawyers and law firms to be compliant with trust-accounting and data-security requirements.
Bill4Time’s parent company, Paradigm, acquired Headnote last September. After the acquisition, another practice management product in the Paradigm portfolio, PracticePanther, launched a native e-payments feature, PantherPayments, also based on the Headnote technology. (Paradigm’s portfolio of companies also includes MerusCase.)
While Bill4Time’s users previously had the option of accepting e-payments through third-party payment processers, the integrated Bill4Time Payments provides them with more features and greater functionality, including at-a-glance reporting of all charges and payments.
It is also more convenient, eliminating the need to jump from the practice management platform to the payments platform and back again to perform simple functions. Users should also benefit from having customer support consolidated under a single vendor.
In addition, Bill4Time says that its e-payments technology is fully compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standards and with the trust accounting rules in all 50 states.
Payments At A Glance
Last week, I was given a preview of Bill4Time payments by Sarah Schaaf, Headnote cofounder and now general manager of payments at Paradigm; David Silberberg, product manager; and Kristin O’Neill, vice president of customer success.
Before using Bill4Time Payments, a firm must complete a brief application to activate the feature. The application has just three steps and can be completed in minutes for most firms, Schaaf said.
Once a firm activates the payments feature, all payments information is consolidated on a single overview page, including for both operating and trust accounts. Users can separately view operating or trust payments alone, or any one client’s payments alone, but this overview page displays the most information.
From this page, the firm can see all payments made, who made them and by what method, the processing status of the payment, the bank account into which it was deposited, and any processing fees charged.
For firms that formerly used third-party payment processors, issuing a payment refund would have required a visit to the processors’ website. Now, firms can issue payment refunds, either full or partial, directly from this page. Refunds are displayed on the page, identified by the letter “R” in the payment ID number.
“Given the fact that it will be all-in-one and the fact that clients can generate at-a-glance reporting based on any of the charges and payments that they’ve received, it’s going to be a big game changer for our clients,” Silberberg said.
To receive e-payments from clients, firms can add the e-payment option to any invoice and then either send the invoice by email or send an email inviting the client to a portal to view the invoice and make a payment.
When invited to the portal, clients get an email notifying them that their invoice is available and providing a link to view it. In the portal, they can view their invoice and then click a “Pay Now” button to make a payment.
In addition to credit card payments, clients have two options for e-check payments. Either they can enter their routing and account information, or they can select e-check via login, which directly authorizes the e-check via a secure login to the client’s bank. Bill4Time says this is more secure than entering routing numbers and eliminates any possibility of mistakes.
Within the portal, the client also has the options of saving payment information for future use and of having the receipt send to multiple email addresses, such as to a bookkeeper or office manager.
Pricing and Cash-Back Offer
Bill4Time subscribers pay no additional subscription cost or membership fee for the payments feature.
The processing fee for e-payments is $5 per e-check and a flat 2.8% pricing on all credit cards, regardless of card types.
Charges by payment processors can often be difficult to discern because of various extra fees charged or bracketed rates for different card types.
Schaaf says this flat 2.8% charge is not only fully transparent, but is less than anyone else charges in the industry.
“If a customer thinks they’re getting better pricing somewhere, we’ll do a comparison,” she said. “We always win on pricing.”
With today’s launch, Bill4Time is offering a $150 cash-back bonus to firms that sign up. The bonus will be credited to a firm’s operating account after it accumulates $150 in transaction fees for payments received.
“The legal tech landscape has advanced 10 years in the last 14 months, with lawyers being forced to adopt technology faster than ever before,” Soumya Nettimi, CEO of Paradigm, said in a statement. “A compliant payments tool is one of the final hurdles lawyers need to overcome in an increasingly virtual world. Thanks to our acquisition of Headnote in 2020, we’re able to make that possible for our Bill4Time customers and their clients at a time when they need it the most.”
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