Opinion 2000-10
(October  2000)

You have asked whether allowing clients to use credit cards to pay their legal fees and expenses would violate the Rules of Professional Conduct. Although some within the profession have opined that the use of credit cards may appear to be "unprofessional", there is no Rule that is implicated by the use of credit cards.  Accordingly, the Committee has long taken the position, albeit informally, that such use of credit cards is appropriate.

It is important to note that the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has recently issued a formal written opinion on this issue.  On July 7th, the ABA Committee issued Formal Opinion 00-419 in which it withdrew several ethics opinions, all over 25 years old, that had been interpreted to restrict a lawyer's ability to accept credit card payments of their fees.

In summary, this Committee finds that allowing clients to use credit cards to pay legal fees and expenses does not constitute a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Philadelphia Bar Association's Professional Guidance Committee provides, upon request, advice for lawyers facing or anticipating facing ethical dilemmas. Advice is based on the consideration of the facts of the particular inquirer's situation and the Rules of Professional Conduct as promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Committee's opinions are advisory only and are based upon the facts set forth. The opinions are not binding upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or any other Court. They carry only such weight as an appropriate reviewing authority may choose to give it.