Lawyers under the Washington D.C. Bar Association (DCB) can accept cryptocurrency as payment for legal services, as disclosed by the District of Columbia Bar ethics opinion.
According to reports, this makes the DCB the fourth bar association in the United States to endorse crypto and digital currency as acceptable payment methods, adding that it falls within the ethical boundaries governing its professional conduct.
A statement by the Washington D.C. Bar Association ‘Ethics Opinion 378’ reads:
“Attorneys cannot hold back the tides of change even if they would like to, and cryptocurrency is increasingly accepted as a payment method by vendors and service providers, including lawyers.”
“It is not unethical for a lawyer to accept cryptocurrency in lieu of more traditional forms of payment, so long as the fee is reasonable. A lawyer who accepts cryptocurrency as an advance fee on services yet to be rendered, however, must ensure that the fee arrangement is reasonable, objectively fair to the client, and has been agreed to only after the client has been informed in writing of its implications and given the opportunity to seek independent counsel. Additionally, a lawyer who takes possession of a client’s cryptocurrency, either as an advance fee or in settlement of a client’s claims, must also take competent and reasonable security precautions to safeguard that property.
The DCB however noted certain ethical challenges with the use of cryptocurrencies such as volatility which the association says is absent when dealing with fiat or cash.
This latest announcement by the DC Bar association brings cryptocurrency to its over 100,000 members; following the steps of the Nebraska, North Carolina and New York City bar associations which had previously issued statements on cryptocurrency in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
An interesting catch to this development is a shift from the silk road or illegal activity narrative of cryptocurrencies, to a tech and payments instrument; which indicates a growing understanding of the crypto subject by many.
Outside the legal industry, new use cases for bitcoin and cryptocurrency payments are popping up. Digital currencies are now commonly acceptable at stores, real estate platforms, sports and more.
This positive utility is sure to increase adoption, as virtual currencies become widely discussed and the industry welcomes new members to the cryptocurrency community.