in that role, Porter found bar association after bar association requesting a solution for the needs of their attorneys. “They wanted to know if we had a best practices solution for their members,” Porter recalls. “The LawPay program was developed with the input of bar association partners and their ethics committees. At their request, we examined the requirements for handling client funds and developed a solution,” she says. That solution involved Porter going to the card processing banks and working tirelessly to get them to waive their right to have access to the trust accounts. “This is risky for a bank. The majority of card fraud stems from merchant accounts. Banks were not willing to take the risk and guarantee that the IOLTA accounts would remain off-limits,” Porter says. “It wasn’t until we had the leverage of 20,000 merchants that the banks agreed to our terms.” With agreements in place, Porter put developers to work on the back end of the LawPay platform, and built a team that now includes the largest number of Certified Payments Professionals, as certified by the Electronic Transaction Association, employed in Texas. Moreover, because LawPay was designed to meet the exclusive needs of attorneys and law firms, the nature of their narrow client base allowed them to provide
all kinds of services to it’s attorney clients that other merchant accounts simply don’t provide. “We give our clients lots of flexibility. They are not bound by having a general merchant account,” Porter says. To start with, LawPay doesn’t hold funds for a determined period of time before allowing the attorney access to them. Secondly, because LawPay works exclusively with attorneys and law firms of all sizes, the company is relatively small, enabling LawPay to “react more quickly to changes in the bankcard industry so as to minimize the impact to our attorney merchants,” Porter adds. “We are also able to monitor transactions and risk on a daily basis. Lawyers routinely have $10,000 deposits and similar large sums. This is a typical charge. But if we suddenly see 100 transactions each for $5.00, we know to flag the account. The needs of attorneys are different from the merchant account needs of a restaurant,” Porter says. Similarly, because LawPay is a boutique merchant processing company, attorney clients will find that whenever they call LawPay, their call will be answered by a live processing professional. “We don’t have phone trees, and our team is based out of our in-house corporate office,” Porter says.
From left to right: John Porter, Tracey Gavin, Amy Porter, Erin Brooks. Janelle Benefield, Michael Mitchell.
Attorney Journal | Volume 125, 2014