Solo and Small Firm

The Practitioner Fall 2021, Volume 27, Issue 3

MCLE Article: Don’t Be Tempted by the Fruit of the Alternative Payment App Tree!

By Erin Joyce

Erin Joyce has extensive experience in State Bar investigations and disciplinary proceedings, plus over twenty five years of civil litigation practice. Erin was admitted in 1990 and practiced for nearly eight years in an intellectual property boutique before joining the Office of Chief Trial Counsel as a prosecutor for the State Bar, from 1997 through 2016. Erin has almost twenty years of experience handling all aspects of discipline cases against attorneys in State Bar Court, from the filing of the complaint through trial and review. She has personally tried dozens of State Bar trials and several appeals. Erin has a comprehensive understanding of how State Bar investigations and proceedings unfold. Before going into private practice, Erin served as Chief Special Investigator for the Los Angeles Fire Department, as a prosecutor for the State Bar of California, and as a lawyer for multiple private practices.

Have your tech-savvy clients demanded that if you don’t let them send you their retainers through a smartphone app that they consider you a dinosaur and may take their work elsewhere? Have you been tempted to accept an alternate form of payment so that your retainer will instantly be in your possession? Are you tempted to make the client pay for the processing fees, if any, charged by one of the new smartphone payment processing app?

As technology to accept alternate forms of payment explodes, lawyers are asking if they can accept alternatives to the traditional check in the mail. With regard to services fully earned and costs already expended, the answer is clearly yes. However, when it comes to accepting money for future services, unearned flat rate fees or unearned costs, the answer is nearly always no.

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