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Anyone who has ever dealt with a client knows how difficult it can be to actually get paid. You do the work, log the billable hours, and send out the bills. After that … you wait. And wait. If you’re lucky, the funds in your trust account will cover the balance. Otherwise, you’re stuck waiting for the client’s next payday, or the next time they have a babysitter and can stop by the office, or [insert excuse here].
Google’s newest Gmail feature, which integrates the oft-ignored Google Wallet payment service, could greatly simplify things — if your clients are at least moderately tech-savvy (and use Gmail). At yesterday’s Google I/O 2013 Conference, the search-turned-everything provider announced that Gmail users can now attach money to outgoing emails, the same way they’d attach a photo or document.
Why You Care
It's simple. You email them an invoice. They hit "reply" and attach payment. No checks, no stamps, no babysitters.
Trusty Trust Account
If you plan on receiving money via Gmail, note that receiving funds is fee-free (and by extension, IOLTA account friendly!) and provides protection against unauthorized transactions. You'll need to connect a bank account, likely your trust account, to Google Wallet. In order to prevent accidental commingling of funds, we'd recommend setting up a new client billing-only account for sending and receiving invoices, receiving funds, etc.
Speaking of Invoices ...
If your firm hasn't already jumped into the cloud, note that every cloud-based law practice management platform includes invoicing, billing, and trust accounting. The providers' friendliness with Google varies, however. For example, Amicus Cloud integrates with Microsoft instead, due to privacy concerns with Google. Total Attorneys, on the other hand, has Google Sync and sends outgoing invoices "on behalf of" your billing email address.
The key, if you want to use Google's fee-free payment services, is to make sure that clients know where to send the payment (the billing-only Gmail account). If your service provider doesn't support Google, include a note on the invoices of the Google payment option.
What Does the Client Need?
A Gmail account, and, if they want to avoid fees, a linked-up bank account. Google announced that payments made from a linked bank account would be fee-free. If the client wishes to use a credit card, they'll pay a 2.9 percent premium (which is better than you, the lawyer, paying for the processing fee).