Financially Legal is a twice-monthly podcast with accompanying articles on the financial aspects of the business of law. Host, Dan Lear, talks with law firm leaders, academics, business professionals and thought leaders to provide compelling and provocative insights at the intersection of finance, economics, and law.

Episode 45. What does it take to get a collections rate of 95% and how does that intersect with diversity, transparency, and compensation? An interview with Jim Meadows from Culhane Meadows

Posted by Dan Lear on September 7, 2022

How, if at all, do compensation, diversity, and transparency overlap? How can these competing priorities be reconciled? Jim Meadows from Culhane Meadows doesn’t have the perfect answer. But he’s giving it a solid try.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business of Law


Episode 44. How do creativity and analytics blend to grow a contingency law firm? An interview with Lynn Bradley from The Potts Law Firm

Posted by Dan Lear on August 24, 2022

Plaintiffs' lawyers are often bold, brash, larger-than-life characters with billboards, regular TV ads, and ambition to match.

But they're also visionary creatives. They excel at building something from nothing and carving out a new and unique path for legal professionals - often where no path existed before. But that creativity needs to be leavened with stability and more strategic thinking. 

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business of Law


Join Legendary 'No B.S.' Business Leader Dan Kennedy for an Exclusive Interview

Posted by Dan Lear on August 18, 2022

If you don't know who Dan Kennedy is, you should. Here's just a quick recap of the impact he's had on the business world in his 30+ year career:

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Topics: Business of Law


How Immigration Law Firms Automate Payment Plans with QuickBooks

Posted by Emery Wager on August 2, 2022

Immigration law firms have unique billing practices. Most immigration firms we encounter either predominantly or exclusively put clients on payments plans. These plans involve the client entering their payment information so they can be automatically billed on a regular schedule until a specified dollar amount is reached.

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


The Legal Ethics of Trust-less Retainers

Posted by Dan Lear on May 12, 2022

One of our most popular blog posts is a post about how lawyers can realize the benefits of a retainer without a trust account.  By storing a client payment method and subsequently charging the payment method in accordance with the attorney/client engagement agreement, firms can get the benefits of having access to funds on hand without the burden of trust account compliance.

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Topics: Business of Law, Payments


The Collections Optimizer

Posted by Emery Wager on May 11, 2022
Collection rates for law firms on average hover around 80%. Said another way, a firm with $1M in annual billings on average leaves $200K on the table each year. That's $200K of work that has already been completed and billed!
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Topics: Business of Law


Trust Accounting in Gravity Legal

Posted by Emery Wager on May 4, 2022

Do you have practice management or accounting software that does your trust accounting? Great. This post is NOT for you.

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


Do You Write Checks...to Yourself?

Posted by Emery Wager on April 30, 2022

Let's face it. Most bankers have no idea what an IOLTA account is. These types of accounts are an afterthought - one of those banking products that gets little attention. We hear horror stories of banks regularly debiting fees from IOLTA accounts or sending erroneous overdraft notifications to the Bar. We recently spoke to a firm that had to call their bank to speak with a real live human being every time they wanted to check their IOLTA balance. 

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


Financing for Law Firms Now Available Through Gravity Legal

Posted by Emery Wager on February 1, 2022

We believe lawyers and law firms have the power to change the world. Every day we interact with lawyers making positive change, sticking up for the underdog and expanding access to the justice system. But we recognize there can be tradeoffs between pursuing these aims and paying the bills. 

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Topics: Business of Law


QuickBooks for Lawyers and Law Firms

Posted by Emery Wager on January 20, 2022

Millions of business use QuickBooks as their accounting platform. From sole proprietors to large corporations, from cobblers to manufacturing firms, QuickBooks users come from all corners of the business world. With QuickBooks serving such a diverse set of clients, there are certain industries and business types with unique accounting needs that QuickBooks doesn't fully support out-of-the-box. Law firms fit into this category.  

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Topics: Accounting, QuickBooks Integration, QuickBooks, Business of Law


Retainers Without the Trust Account - Payments on File for Law Firms

Posted by Emery Wager on December 8, 2021

Trust or IOLTA accounts evoke feelings of fear and frustration. Untangling trust accounting mistakes can devour precious hours, and the risk of running afoul of the rules of professional conduct is constant. Yet for all the bad, retainers (in particular evergreen retainers) are one of the top ways to improve your firm’s collection rate. With collection rates averaging around 85% according to the 2021 Clio Trends Report, collections is a major financial drain on the legal industry.  

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Topics: Business of Law


How to Dispute a Chargeback for Law Firms

Posted by Emery Wager on November 24, 2021

Whether a client unilaterally decided not to pay your firm, or you made a legitimate mistake in your billing process, disputes or chargebacks on credit card transactions do occur. The card brands have processes in place for settling these disputes, and this article outlines the actions your firm can take after receiving notice of a chargeback. For information on how to avoid chargebacks, see How to Protect Your Law Firm from Chargebacks.

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Topics: Business of Law


Gravity Legal - Now Available in the Reynen Court Solution Store

Posted by Dan Lear on October 13, 2021

Vetting, deploying, and managing new technology takes a lot of time and can be expensive. More to the point, while much of today’s cloud computing technology uses some common technologies, the implementation can vary significantly even in the cloud. This can be a real headache for law firms who not only often deal with sensitive information but have specific rules and heightened standards regarding how confidential and privileged information must be protected. 

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


Can Bankruptcy Lawyers Accept Credit Cards?

Posted by Dan Lear on September 25, 2021

You can’t really blame consumer bankruptcy attorneys for being finicky about how they get paid. After all, would-be clients wouldn’t be knocking on the door if the those debtors had managed their money well and been able to regularly pay their debts. As a result, many bankruptcy attorneys do way more gymnastics than other lawyers to ensure they get paid. For example, insisting upon upfront payment, payment by the debtor’s friends or family, automated payments that fall on a debtor-client’s payday, or even the development of a new type of bankruptcy, bifurcated bankruptcy, that changes how clients pay in order to improve their odds of getting paid (we won’t get into bifurcated bankruptcy here but watch this space for a subsequent post on the topic). You’ve got to hand it to them.

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Topics: Business of Law


Beyond Credit Cards: 3 Quick Tips to Optimize Payments at Your Law Firm

Posted by Dan Lear on September 25, 2021

Listen, we here at Gravity Legal work hard for the money we get paid. Payments isn’t as mentally straining as rocket science or physically demanding as coal mining but it is a fairly complex regulated business and we work really hard to try and make things great for our law firm customers. And while there are still a handful of bar associations that want to make it harder for law firms to accept electronic payments (we’re looking at you Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, West Virginia, Alabama, and Michigan), today most law firms are largely free to take advantage of the collections and convenience benefits that accepting electronic payments offers.  

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Topics: Business of Law


From ABA Law Practice Today: Three Payments Hacks To Improve Your Firm’s Profit Margin Today

Posted by Dan Lear on August 21, 2021

Small law firms live or die by cash flow. A few extra percentage points on revenue can help a firm make payroll or pay rent (hopefully not, but “gulp!”), buy software, hire, experiment with a new practice area, or even innovate on a new product or service. But extra revenue rarely comes easy. What if you had a wayusing existing systemsto immediately find additional revenue for your law firm?

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


Understanding Financial Statements for Law Firms

Posted by Emery Wager on July 28, 2021

This is a guest post by law firm financial expert Brandy Derrick of Legal Ease Bookkeeping

 

Every career has its own set of lingo, special terms, and years of learning to master.  Attorneys work very hard to become skilled in their field, mastering enormous amounts of knowledge, terminology, and concepts.  Although busy with his or her practice, an attorney would do well to learn the basic terms of the financial statements.  Understanding each one will help an attorney profit and make adjustments in business.

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Topics: Firm Financials, Key Performance Metrics, Business of Law


Gravity Legal Guide to the Best Lawyer Communities

Posted by Dan Lear on July 13, 2021

Though lawyers are a solitary profession - they spend a surprising amount of time in their own heads - they’re also remarkably social. We made a cursory count recently and came up with 103 state, regional, local, and specialty bar associations. And we feel fairly confident that the total number is certainly double or even triple that. Feels like as long as there have been lawyers, there have been bar associations.

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Topics: Business of Law, Lawyer Communities


The Complete Guide to Payment Processing for Law Firms

Posted by Emery Wager on July 6, 2021

Although electronic payments are not relevant for every firm, most law firms do at least a portion of their business by issuing ongoing invoices. For these firms, the data is clear: Electronic payments matter.

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Topics: Business of Law


Gravity Legal White Paper On Shifting Credit Card Fees

Posted by Dan Lear on July 2, 2021

Here's our nearly 20 page white paper on law firms shifting processing credit card processing fees to clients.

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Topics: Firm Financials, Credit Card Fees, Business of Law


Profits Per Partner...Really?

Posted by Dan Lear on June 14, 2021

Every year, to much fanfare, The American Lawyer releases a list of the largest law firms in the world, also known as the AmLaw 100. 

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


Two Dans talk Legal Technology on the LawLytics Podcast

Posted by Dan Lear on June 10, 2021

I recently joined another attorney Dan, Dan Jaffe, from LawLytics for a great conversation that, yes, touched on Gravity Legal and on Dan's business, LawLytics, but was mostly focused on a favorite topic of mine, legal technology. On the Gravity Legal side we covered Gravity Legal's credit card fee shifting technology and integrated ACH features, the Gravity Legal Zapier integration, and the forthcoming Gravity Legal Quickbooks integration. 

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


Law Practice in Six Words - Announcing our Integration with Matter365

Posted by Dan Lear on May 14, 2021

I’ve been working in legal technology for a while. I’ve been thinking about it for even longer than that. And I worked at Microsoft before that. And, if there’s one thing that I know about lawyers - even today - it’s that Lawyers. Love. Microsoft Office. Practice management systems come and go, accounting software ebbs and flows, some lawyers try document automation. But just about every lawyer and law firm uses Office.

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


Dan Lear Talks Subscription Legal on Five Star Counsel Podcast

Posted by Emery Wager on May 14, 2021

Subscriptions were the name of the game when Dan Lear recently chatted with Houston Estate Planning attorney John Strohmeyer, the namesake of Strohmeyer Law, on John's podcast, Five Star Counsel.

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


How Tiered Processing Pricing Rips Lawyers Off

Posted by Dan Lear on May 6, 2021

Here on Financially Legal we recently wrote about the three main ways payment processors rip lawyers off: tiered pricing, monthly fees, and limiting available payment methods. You can read that article for the higher-level discussion but, as we mentioned, tiered pricing deserves its own discussion. We dig in on that here.

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Topics: Business of Law


Three Ways Payment Processors Rip Lawyers Off

Posted by Dan Lear on May 6, 2021

We legal folks are hardly unbiased about the good that we think we do in the world but there’s little doubt that lawyers really do play an important role in our society. In fact, one of the interpretations of the famous line from Shakespeare’s Henry VI “The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers” is that killing all the lawyers is the fastest way to societal chaos, not societal improvement. Lawyers are the bulwark against tyranny and government overreach and the defenders of the rule of law.

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Topics: Business of Law


Shifting Credit Card Processing Fees: What Law Firms Need To Know

Posted by Dan Lear on April 20, 2021

Accepting electronic payment is table stakes for most lawyers and law firms.

The Clio Trends Report has been fairly explicit about the benefits of electronic payments:

  • The 2019 Clio Trends Report stated that 57 percent of electronic payments get paid the same day they are billed, and 85 percent get paid within a week.
  • The 2018 Clio Trends Report found that 38 percent of consumers prefer to make payments electronically via email, online portal, or on the web.
  • Finally, that same 2018 report indicated that 50 percent of consumers are more likely to hire a lawyer who takes electronic payments, or, stated another way, 40 percent would never hire a lawyer who doesn’t take credit or debit cards.
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Topics: Business of Law


Best Practices for Law Firms Shifting Card Fees

Posted by Dan Lear on April 19, 2021

There’s a lot to think about if your firm is considering shifting credit card fees to clients - is this practice right for our firm? How should we communicate about it to clients? Is it permissible in our state? Do our local rules of professional conduct permit it? What method should our firm use?
The good news is that it’s not that complicated. You’ll likely be good to go if you adhere to some simple best practices. Below we’ve compiled a list of best practices for two of the most common ways that merchants implement shifting credit card fees: cash discounting and surcharging. We’ll start with discounting:

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Topics: Business of Law


The Many Flavors of Credit Card Fee Shifting

Posted by Dan Lear on April 19, 2021

Although you've probably been charged a separate fee to use a credit card with a given business you may not know that businesses haven't always been able to do this.

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Topics: Business of Law


Dan Lear Featured on Allison Williams' Crushing Chaos Podcast

Posted by Emery Wager on April 17, 2021

Allison Williams, the Law Firm Mentor, helps law firms grow and reach their full potential. Her podcast, Crushing Chaos, tackles all sorts of issues lawyers face while working to grow their firms. 

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


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