Lawyers in Nebraska have been given the green light to accept bitcoin payments, according to a Nebraska ethics advisory committee.
Established by the state’s supreme court, the Lawyer’s Advisory Committee issued their opinion earlier this month. It is the first time that a state ethics body has considered the role of digital currencies for payments.
The opinion reads:
An attorney may receive and accept digital currencies such as bitcoin as payment for legal services.
It also stated that an attorney may receive cryptocurrencies from third parties and that an attorney is permitted to hold digital currencies in escrow or trust for clients or third parties.
According to the Norfolk Daily News, this is a positive step for lawyers who wanted clarification on whether they could ethically accept bitcoin for legal services.
Matt McKeever, an attorney with the law firm of Copple, Rockey, McKeever & Schlecht in Norfolk and Omaha, who requested the opinion from the high court, said:
Eastern Nebraska is rapidly growing into a hub for payment processing and ‘fintech’ – the new field of financial technology. Bitcoin and other currencies like it are being used on a daily basis in Omaha and Lincoln.
According to CoinATMRadar, Nebraska itself has two bitcoin ATMs – one in Lincoln and one in Omaha.
The ethics opinion by the committee makes note of the fact that a number of law firms in other areas already accept bitcoin as payment for services. However, it adds that it’s not known if they determined ‘whether such policy is allowed through their respective Bar Associations’ Codes of Conduct.’
It adds, though, that its price remains volatile. For example, in January 2013, bitcoin’s price was trading around $7. Yet, by the end of the year it has risen to $1,200. The committee believes that immediate conversion into U.S. dollars will mitigate or eliminate the risk of volatility.
It further reads:
Through this method, the client is informed that an increase in the value of their bitcoins will not additionally fund their outstanding account. In addition, clients need not be concerned if the value of the bitcoins they sent for payment suddenly dropped.
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