A recent Law.com story, by Ben Hancock, “What’s Next: Blockchain and Justice; Net Neutrality Fights Brews; Bitcoin for Legal Fees,” reports that the skyrocketing prices for crypto-currencies are making for some interesting legal battles, but they also present another novel question to lawyers: What if my client wants to pay my legal fees in Bitcoin? In an op-ed, Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck attorney Ian Anderson walks through the ethical and practical considerations of that question — and notes that Bitcoin isn’t treated by the IRS as legal tender.
“Like the country lawyer accepting a bushel of apples for drafting a will, payment in Bitcoin is payment in property,” Anderson writes. He also notes that payment in crypto-currency raises money laundering concerns, and that if the value of the token goes to zero, it could put the client and attorney in conflict.
Takeaway: “Some attorneys believe … that such flexible payment models attract new clients. But for cases with minimal fees or attorneys who are not tech-savvy, receiving payment in Bitcoin may be more trouble than it’s worth.”