Today the Oklahoma Bar Association announces its latest member benefit- law firm merchant accounts for credit card processing for its members. There is no more need to spend time dealing with issues about the service charges on retainers and other trust account deposits and no more depositing of small checks just to cover service charges. It is as simple as can be. When a client uses a credit card, the law firm designates the account to be credited, either the operating account (for payment for services already delivered) or the trust account (for retainers and other trust funds.) But with this plan, all service charges or potential charge backs all come from the operating account, never the trust account.
The client who gives you a retainer has 100% of it in your trust account with your firm absorbing any service charges. Concerns of keeping client trust funds in a "merchant account subject to invasion" are satisfied. See California Bar Ethics opinion 2007-172 for a discussion of the issues.
We are excited about this new way to simply our lawyer’s professional lives. More details are on the bar’s Webpage here. As I wrote way back in 2003 in ‘Do You Accept Credit Cards?’ I think it is very important for law firms whose clients are primarily individuals to accept credit cards. Other law firms can make their own decisions. But if an inanimate gas pump accepts credit cards, how do you tell your client that your law firm cannot?