AffiniPay CEO on Expanding End-User Choice to Accelerate Business Opportunity 

Digital Invoice

The economy’s ongoing digital transformation is industry-agnostic, and now it’s coming for the legal field.

“It’s really about the end client,” Dru Armstrong, CEO of AffiniPay, parent company of legal billing software solution LawPay, told PYMNTS in a recent conversation.

“If you look at an attorney’s week, they spend probably a quarter to a third of their time doing administrative tasks that can be automated, and beyond that – they’re probably writing down 20-30% of what they are able to invoice for. That creates 50% leakage,” Armstrong emphasizes.

Small businesses, including independent and single-attorney law firms, are struggling in today’s challenging macroclimate — but digital solutions can help them compete and even win greater market share.

“Lawyers are really smart,” Armstrong says, “and I think they are smart enough to understand that with technology comes complexity and a burden — so technology inherently needs to create both [an efficiency] lift along with better outcomes for [legal businesses] and their clients.”

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Leveraging technology to create efficiency and opportunity

Armstrong adds that the ability to bring together financial tools around a modern legal payment platform with integrated digital invoicing capabilities can create those needed efficiencies for small and medium-size legal practices, while simultaneously driving better client outcomes and, most importantly, reducing the 50% leakage mentioned earlier.

Still, she notes that a lot of small businesses don’t necessarily feel like “jumping fully into the deep end of technology” in order to solve “very specific” pain points around invoicing and billing collections.

Delayed payments are a historical headache for businesses across industries, but the growing consumerization of B2B payments is giving rise to a new generation of digital-first tools that promise to smooth out invoice wrinkles while saving time and freeing up operational bandwidth.

PYMNTS has been tracking the growing demand for innovative and varied payment solutions; Original research in “The One-Stop Bill Pay Playbook: Friction Within the Bill Payment Experience,” a PYMNTS and Mastercard collaboration, shows that more than half (54%) of bill payers believe a centralized bill payment portal would make things easier through automation and other technologies that help ease pain points.

That’s why Armstrong says LawPay is launching LawPay Pro, a new legal billing solution and digital tool that sits in between full practice management and legal payments and invoice collections.

Since the start of the profession, lawyers have had to chase down invoices from clients, and Armstrong estimates that about a third of small law practices are in the market for a payment solution that takes the first step of enabling digital payments without going all the way to a holistic enterprise practice management software solution.

Looking across industries to the finance and insurance sectors, nearly three in four executives (73%) tell PYMNTS that investments in digital payments technology have had beneficial knock-on effects across their working capital and credit systems operations.

Giving clients more choice drives better outcomes

Going back to the idea of the end client, Armstrong emphasizes that her mission is to “help lawyers perfect their practice, make it healthier, and allow them to grow in the way they choose by taking on more clients and going deeper with those clients by bringing to bear these new payment types and lending experiences that make the most sense.”

There’s always a reason not to adopt technology, she notes, making it critical to meet legal practices where they are by providing both her business’s law firm customers and their end clients flexibility and choice. “It’s that old quote – how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Only about a one-third to 45% of the legal business invoice volume is actually digitized from a payments perspective, Armstrong emphasizes.

“We have lots of data that shows [businesses] get paid faster and more fully if they’re able to get an accurate digital invoice out quickly and have a digital payment link,” she says. “Often, the reason people are calling us in the first place is they recognize clients want to pay them with credit card, or with a digital eCheck, or with a pay later option.”

It’s even more accelerated in the consumer space, she notes, adding that she expects that trend to continue. “So, to meet your customers with what they want, and for you to actually get paid as a business, these are really important tools.”

As for what she’s looking forward to most?

“It’s thinking through what the future tech stack looks like — how we can really move the needle for the legal profession in ways that didn’t exist before.”