Some lawyers are jumping on the cryptocurrency craze, opting to accept payment in bitcoin.
According to a report in Law.com, some of the big law firms that have been representing bitcoin and other cryptocurrency companies since 2013 have been accepting bitcoin payments – but in recent months, small and big law firms alike, as well as solo attorneys, have also started accepting bitcoin payments in order to meet both the needs of their practices and their clients.
“I’ve known for a long time that my opportunity to expand in certain areas has been affected by not taking it,” said Carol Van Cleef, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who has represented cryptocurrency clients with regulatory compliance. The firms where Van Cleef has more recently worked haven't taken bitcoin as a payment method, but she is making arrangements with a client to accept bitcoin as payment in her own standalone practice. “It’s a symbol for the client about how vested you are in the area,” she said.
Lawyers aren’t left alone when they accept bitcoin as a payment. As the report noted, there are companies that offer digital currency exchange and payment processing, enabling firms to convert their bitcoin into U.S. currency and thus get paid.
Although a growing number of lawyers operating in the cryptocurrency world will accept it as a payment, that doesn’t mean they are comfortable with it. After all, bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, has had a volatile ride. Last year, it started out at $1,000, and at one point in 2017 surpassed $19,000. More recently, it is trading at around $11,445. That volatility means a lawyer can expect the price it bills per bitcoin to change – a lot.
“Lawyers are typically very risk-averse and tend to be on the side of certainty, so I think that’s probably one of the biggest issues for them in accepting bitcoin as a fee,” said Van Cleef. “How do you price it? When do you price it? How do you ensure you’re minimizing any downside risk in a volatile trading market?”