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PROTECT CLIENT DATA WHEN ACCEPTING PAYMENTS VIA DIGITAL WALLET

September 12, 2017 — Columbus, OH  |  Download PDF  |  Media Contact: Antionette Goff

A mobile payment app, such as VENMO, can provide a free digital wallet to allow payments between friends and trusted individuals.  Mobile payment apps may use Facebook or similar platforms.  However, if a lawyer uses a mobile payment app, the lawyer must still protect the client confidences as required by Prof Cond R 1.6.

If a lawyer wishes to use a digital wallet such as VENMO to accept payments from clients there are several steps the lawyer should consider:

  • Be sure to follow the terms and conditions of any User Agreement
  • Go to settings and indicate the transaction from the client is to be viewed ”only by me” to protect the privacy of the client
    • NOTE:  If there are past transactions, they should also be made private
  • Specify in the Fee Contract that a digital wallet or mobile payment app, such as VENMO, is acceptable for paying legal fees and expenses
  • Require in the Fee Contract that the client also go to settings and set the transaction with the lawyer to be viewed “only by me.”
  • Go to settings under banks & accounts and direct the payment to the proper account:
    • If receiving client funds, such as a retainer, the lawyer should direct payment to the lawyer’s IOLTA
    • If receiving payment on an invoice for earned fees, the lawyer should direct payment to the lawyer’s office account
    • If there is only one account, funds may be directed to the IOLTA and immediately transferred to the office account. See Op 2007-3

Please note this is not an endorsement of this method of payment in general or this app in particular.  This information is provided for loss prevention purposes by OBLIC to provide information to assist lawyers using technology within the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.

If you have any questions about this or any other loss prevention topic, please contact:

Gretchen Koehler Mote, Esq.,

Director of Loss Prevention
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Company
Direct Phone Line: 614.572.0620