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Product Review

Payment Plan: Abacus Payment Exchange Offers Law Firms New Ways to Get Paid

By Jared Correia

Abacus Payment Exchange (APX) is a proprietary tool that has been built from the ground up and engineered exclusively for law firms.

If queried, most law firms would point to March of 2020 as the point in time that everything changed.  Not that you need to hear this again, but this was when the coronavirus pandemic began to shut down modern life in a truly disruptive way.

Since then, it seems like we’ve all been living in a “Twilight Zone” episode.

But the ongoing pandemic sped up some societal trends that were already occurring before its arrival.  For example, the convenience economy was already here; the pandemic just super-charged it. You were shopping on Amazon before; now, you do it for just about everything. You were streaming movies before; now, there are umpteen streaming services, and you’re sitting on your couch instead of going to the movies. And when was the last time you held physical cash in your hand? It’s been a while, right?

Consumers pay for everything via online transactions. Yet, many lawyers still only offer the ability to pay via check or (preferably) bags of cash. While channeling Saul Goodman may work on your streaming service, it doesn’t hold water in real life. And, lawyers who talk about how their clients actually prefer cash or check payments create a self-fulfilling prophecy: because those are likely the only payment options they offer.  Make epayments available, and almost everyone will select that option, as they do in literally every other aspect of their lives.

Balance Forward: Introducing Abacus Payment Exchange (APX)

AbacusNext recognizes the value of epayments to law firms, which tend to get paid more and more quickly when utilizing that option, even accounting for payment processing fees. To that end, the company has launched its proprietary Abacus Payment Exchange, available across its suite of practice management solutions (more on that momentarily). APX is a proprietary tool that has been built from the ground up and engineered exclusively for law firms and accounting firms.

APX is a unique offering to the legal community in many ways. For one, it’s really easy to set up. Many lawyers tremble heavily when it comes to setting up new technology, especially tech-related to law firm finances; but, onboarding for APX is done entirely through a web application.  Users set up operating and trust accounts; and, because APX is deeply integrated into the AbacusNext ecosystem, firms can import much of the setup data from existing AbacusNext law practice management products the firm may already be using. A helpful wizard (not a real one, unfortunately) is available for any questions that arise during the process.  It’s a snap to implement, even if you’re an attorney who doesn’t class yourself as particularly tech-savvy.

And, since APX is an epayments service built for law firms, the system is automatically configured to take processing fees out of the operating account for trust or retainer payments.  With respect to those processing fees, APX offers a flat rate for all credit cards; now, that’s an unusual program because in traditional payment systems, processing fees can be higher for different types of cards. There is a $1 per transaction fee for ACH payments. And, any transactions usually complete within two business days. Aside from those payment processing fees, there are no additional charges for AbacusNext practice management users who want to activate APX in their software environment. Encrypted tokens are used for transactions to maintain data security.

Flex Appeal: Payment Options in Abacus Payment Exchange

Legal consumers, like all consumers, prefer to pay via electronic means. They also appreciate flexibility in electronic payment methods. APX allows law firms to offer that flexibility via a number of different payment applications.

For example, “pay now” links are available so users can send a “pay now” request to clients via email or a secure client portal. Those transactions are secured, in part, by requiring clients to submit a four-digit pin, which is created by the system, before they can make payment. Law firms can also collect payment information via phone and generate payments that way through a “quick payment” option that allows users to add client payment information directly to the system. While one-time payment options are available, including setting up a single future payment, APX can also accommodate recurring payments. Recurring payments are becoming an important part of the law firm billing model as more law firms begin to offer payment plans and subscription services in the way that SaaS providers have for years. APX can also handle bulk payments.

APX  keeps track of payment history and offers a graphical dashboard that shows useful payment analytics.

Automating payments is a real boon for law firms that are tired of chasing clients for money – and that’s every law firm, right? APX will send a notification to clients via email every time a payment method has been applied, including via a recurring payment model.  Helpfully, the system is able to automatically allocate, on invoice and payment notifications, whether trust funds were used to complete payment, including the amount of trust money that was used, and how much remains on retainer.

Nexus Event: APX is Integrated Across AbacusNext Platforms

As alluded to previously, APX is heavily integrated across the AbacusNext practice management ecosystem. (Shortly, the payment tool will be offered through Zola Suite, Abacus’ newest legal practice management offering.) This includes functionality within the AbacusNext client portal for clients who wish to access invoices and make payment via that method. Usefully, payments made in the client portal are updated in-system. If a client does not already have an electronic payment setup, they can add one for a credit or debit or echeck directly within the client portal.

The upshot is that AbacusNext has built a more user-friendly experience for its law firm customers — who can, in turn, offer additional ease of use in payment processing to their own clients.

Law firms that stubbornly refuse to offer epayment options to their clients are well behind the pack, while firms that are not using proprietary, in-system payment tools are sacrificing efficiency. For law firms that may be used to relying on multiple providers for case management, document assembly and payment processing, AbacusNext has streamlined its offering by unifying software integrations and support for all categories.

APX brings it all together for AbacusNext customers, who can leave their competitors in the dust.

Check out Abacus Payment Exchange today.

Attorney at Work’s sponsored Product Reviews and Product Spotlights showcase news and features from legal technology industry leaders. For more information, click here.

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Jared Correia Jared Correia

Jared D. Correia is CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business management consulting services, and works with legal vendors to develop programming and content. Jared is also COO of Gideon Software, Inc., which offers intelligent messaging and predictive analytics software built exclusively for law firms. A former practicing attorney, Jared is the host of the Legal Toolkit podcast and speaks frequently at industry events. In addition to his Attorney at Work column, Managing, he writes an advice column for Lawyerist and on tech startups for Above the Law. Follow him @JaredCorreia.

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