Monthly Archives: September 2014

How can accepting Bitcoin payments help your legal practice?

Coming from the UK but living in New Zealand I get people’s frustrations with bank fees on international transactions. Quite frankly, it feels like daylight robbery.

How can accepting Bitcoin payments help your legal practice?

Which is why I love the idea of Bitcoin, a digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank.

In January 2014, LegalVision, one of Australia’s most innovative legal service providers, announced it would be the first Australian law firm to accept payment in Bitcoins.

Lachlan McKnight is the CEO and co-founder of LegalVision, which helps small to medium businesses and start-ups looking for legal assistance, advice or documentation. Their business lawyers work online and for a fixed fee.

I spoke to Lachlan about:

  • what prompted this
  • how it’s impacted LegalVision’s business
  • what advice he’d give to other professional services firms thinking about accepting Bitcoin payments.

Why did you decide to accept Bitcoin payments?

“We had a customer based in Germany who wanted to pay in Bitcoins and so we decided to look into it. We signed up with Bitpay, which was a really easy process, and started accepting Bitcoin payments. The real benefit to international clients is that we can charge them less, as Bitcoin trading fees are much lower than traditional international bank transfer fees.”

What, if any, impact has doing so had on your business?

“When we announced that we were accepting Bitcoin payments, we got lots of media coverage both in Australia and internationally. As a result, a number of people came to us asking us to help them resolve Bitcoin disputes.”

“We now seem to get found by people wanting help in this area. Interestingly, negative publicity about Bitcoin resulted in more work for us.”

“Bitcoin payments make up a small, but growing percentage of our total revenue. However, a lot of our clients operate in the online or technology sphere. Even if they don’t want to pay in Bitcoin, the fact we accept this currency shows that we understand new technology and that we’re open to new ways of doing things – it’s essentially a trust signal.”

“Accepting Bitcoin payments has also been valuable internally as it shows our existing and potential staff that we’re a different type of business to a traditional law firm.”

What types of customers typically pay in Bitcoins?

“Typically overseas clients who don’t want to deal with money transfer issues and Bitcoin entrepreneurs. I expect this will change over time but Bitcoin is still not main-stream.”

What advice would you give to lawyers and other professionals looking to accept Bitcoin payments?

“Firstly, I’d say it’s very easy to set up and to use. Secondly, once you’ve taken a payment in Bitcoin, sell it immediately for your local currency. The value of Bitcoin does fluctuate from day to day and so, unless you’re prepared to take a risk, you’ll want to exchange it for real money.”

How to set up a Bitpay account:

1.  Go to www.bitpay.com and fill out the short form.
2.  Click the link in the verification email they send through to verify your email address.
3.  Once you receive your account approval, log into your Bitpay account and set up details of your settlement currency and bank details.
4.  Adjust your approved sales volume limit from US$100 per day by clicking ‘raise your limit’ on your dashboard. There are 3 options:

  • Basic – enables processing up to $1,000 per day. It requires a manual account review and can take 1-3 business days.
  • Verified – enables processing up to $10,000 per day. This requires a manual account review and you will need to provide proof of address, incorporation documents, photo ID and Tax ID number. It takes 2-4 days to set up.
  • Trusted – enables processing up to $100,000 per day. This requires all the same things as ‘Verified’ plus the most recent 3 months of bank statements OR an extended validation SSL certificate.

4.  Add payment buttons and/or plugins to your website, or invoice via Bitpay.  

What do you think – can you see a benefit in accepting Bitcoin payments in your practice?

Should I connect with other lawyers on LinkedIn?

Lawyers regularly ask me this so I thought it worthy of a blog post.

The answer to this really comes down to your objectives. What is it you’re looking to achieve?

Should I connect with other lawyers on LinkedIn

There are some very good reasons why you might wish to connect with other lawyers, such as:

  • You wish to generate referrals from other lawyers
  • It’s a great way to keep track of former colleagues and friends who may one day move in-house
  • You want to pick up some tips from others’ activity.

I know some of you will be concerned that other lawyers will look through your contacts and try to poach them.

In order to prevent this, you have two options (other than not connecting with them):

  1. Be proactive and focus on providing your clients with excellent customer service and regularly sharing content they will find valuable and helpful. In all likelihood your competitors will be talking to your clients anyway, so this is always a key area on which to focus.
  2. Hide your connections on LinkedIn. This means your connections can only see details of shared connections (i.e. those connections you have in common). To do so, go to ‘Privacy & Settings’ (hover over the photo of you in the top right hand corner of your LinkedIn toolbar and select Privacy & Settings from the dropdown list – you may be prompted for your password), look under the ‘Privacy Controls’ header in your profile settings and select ‘See who can see your connections’. Choose ‘Only you’ from the drop-down box.

On one hand, LinkedIn is about networking and helping others in your network and it many people perceive it negatively when people hide their connections, but on the other if you act for Shell and you have lots of connections at BP this could cause issues with your client.

Ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you and make sure that your social media guidelines are flexible enough to allow others to do the same.

What are your views on connecting with other professionals in your industry?  Are you for or against?

Image Credit: www.jobinterviewtools.com