Ethics Committee Formal Opinion #1984/5 1

September 11, 1984


A credit card may be used for the payment of legal fees and a lawyer may enter into the standard “Merchant Agreement” with the credit card issuer provided the lawyer enters into a fee agreement in which the client consents to limited disclosure concerning the client to a third party and the imposition of interest charges.  Canon 2 and 5

Where a credit card is used for a retainer, in the event the lawyer withdraws or the representation is terminated, the lawyer must promptly refund any balance in cash or issue a credit to the card holder’s account.  Supreme Court Rule 50 (2)(C); DR 2-110(A)(3).

A lawyer willing to accept credit card payments may advertise that fact.  DR 2-101.


  1. May a lawyer accept credit cards for the payment of legal fees?
  2. May a lawyer who accepts credit cards advertise that fact to clients and prospective clients?
  3. May credit cards be used for payment of retainers or advances for services not yet rendered?
  4. May a lawyer use the standard “Merchant Agreement” or must a special agreement be approved by the Bar Association?

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