Apple Pay launched this week, and a law firm with a “completely digital” office is ready to take advantage of the new technology, which is available for on-site payments by users of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
The Barone Defense Firm in Birmingham is embracing Apple Pay.
The firm invested about $500 to purchase the needed hardware that allows clients to tap their phone to the unit to make a credit card payment.
“It’s a really great, easy method to pay,” said Patrick Barone, principal and founding member, Barone Defense Firm. “The majority of our clients pay on credit, and we wanted to make it as convenient for them as possible and also convenient for us too.”
Barone said in addition to making it easy for clients to pay, Apple Pay also provides increased data security through encryption.
“I was most interested in the very high-security features,” he said. “I want to make sure that we keep all of our clients’ data secure. I certainly don’t want to be on the side of Target or the most recent business that’s been hacked.”
The firm currently relies on iPads, but Barone said he hopes to switch everyone to the iPhone 6 Plus eventually.
“I’m the first one in the firm to get an iPhone 6 Plus, so my hope is I’m going to be able to use the 6 Plus in place of the iPad and so far so good,” he said. “I’ve been able to do that, and the early reports from me personally are that it’s going to work.”
Barone said converting everyone to the 6 Plus would result in a savings for the firm as well as added convenience.
“I have found carrying two devices and trying to toggle between two of them can sometimes be cumbersome,” he said. “I’m just finding it easier to interface and, for example, to keep regular and constant notes, which my secretary appreciates.
“We have a functionality so when I am in court, I can write a note of exactly what happened and that syncs back at the office immediately, and so everybody knows exactly what is going on in almost real time. Honestly, I was lagging a little with that with the iPad.”
Barone said until recently his firm hadn’t been an early adopter of new technology, but in the last two and a half years, that has changed and is something he expects to continue.
“We recently made our office completely digital,” he said. “We don’t even keep paper files anymore.”
Barone said the cloud and mobile devices have changed the way attorneys work, making it easier than ever to access and use information.
“Just yesterday, I was in court, and I was able to review the entire file in about 15 minutes before going in court to advocate on behalf of my client,” he said. “I can actually have access to a complete law library at my fingertips. Not the law library in the cloud, but also all the research documents, data and books we have available to us back at the law firm, our own private library.
“It certainly is a lot more convenient, easy and effective for all of the lawyers to be able to provide the type of legal services they want to provide and always have the client's complete file in their pocket.”
While some other law firms have gone the digital route, Barone said it's still pretty "cutting edge" to be completely digital.
“It’s definitely the way we are going as a profession,” he said. “But we are certainly on the early side of that.”
The bottom line
Barone said the conversion to digital and the firm’s use of the cloud hasn’t yielded the financial results it had hoped for, but he expects that it will.
“There has definitely been an adoption lag, as it relates to the savings,” he said. “I think in the long run, ultimately, we are going to have a savings, but I guess that remains to be shown.”
In the end, Barone said the cost is worth it.
“I think it’s very important to try and stay on the cutting edge,” he said. “There is a time cost as well as a money cost involved, but it’s better for the client and the lawyer.”
Barone admits the conversion to new technology isn’t always seamless, and some attorneys are hesitant to embrace new ways of doing things.
“Some of my associates aren’t so keen on the idea of just having a relatively small or comparatively small screen,” he said.
Additionally, some attorneys still want to use paper files.
“It's still hard to recognize that you have it all at your fingertips,” he said. “And it takes a different skill set and mindset to do a trial using just your iPad or your iPhone Plus. It’s a question, really, especially for the lawyers who have been practicing longer, of teaching an old dog new tricks.”
But, he noted to attract new talent to the firm, being on the "cutting edge" of technology is a must.
“The lawyers coming out of law school now are half my age and have grown up with technology in a way that I didn’t," he said. "Unless we as a profession keep up with the technology, we are going to get left behind."