When Amy Porter founded the online payment platform AffiniPay, she drew on her experience as a college athlete—cheerleading while majoring in merchandising at the University of Texas at Austin—which led to work as a sales representative with the athletic clothing company Varsity Brands.
“We are competitive in the fact that we want to do a good job, but we are not aggressive,” says Porter, 46, of her business, which was initially offered to bar associations that wanted to manage payments through websites. “We’re confident but not arrogant, and we’re cognizant of the client experience. A lot of that translates from athletics, and we have a lot of former athletes who work here.”
A Legal Rebels Trailblazer, Porter’s businesses include LawPay, an online payment platform for attorneys, and CPACharge, which she developed after discovering accountants were using LawPay for online payments.
“They were duct-taping LawPay for CPA clients, which was great, but we realized there was a need for CPAs, as well,” Porter says. “They were looking for online payments that allowed them to be professional.”
No surprise, but the service does well with its original audience. “LawPay works with 49 of the 50 state bars along with a program through ABA Advantage,” Porter says, noting that California is the exception. “Our technology is also used by over 35,000 law firms, approximately 20% of the 175,000 firms in the U.S.”
Porter discovered attorneys needed help with online payments when she started working with bar associations in 2005, and that led to the founding of LawPay. Today, she notes, there’s a growing number of vendors who want to sell attorneys technology and the trick is figuring out what lawyers need.
“The mistake I see new companies make is that they say they are going to come in with their hero cape on and … transform the industry without taking the time to really learn what lawyers actually need to be more efficient and successful,” says Porter, who is based in Austin.
Some attorneys might not be tech-savvy, she adds, but they are intelligent. If you want them to buy a product, she advises developing something that makes their lives easier and doesn’t disrupt their workflow.
“When legal technology comes in and tries to revamp everything they do in their office, they will get resistance—especially older attorneys,” Porter says. “What they do has been proven successful for them.”
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