UPDATE: The Law Association of the Netherlands has informed Plasman that accepting bitcoin is in breach of their regulations, which stipulate that lawyers must only accept payments directly into bank accounts. Plasman has contested this decision, and continues to accept payments in the currency.
Are you in desperate need of legal advice in the Netherlands? Struggling with money transfers to pay for a lawyer after some unfortunate incident in an Amsterdam nightclub?
Well, you can now hire one of the Netherlands’ most high-profile criminal defence lawyers, and pay in bitcoin.
Peter Plasman is one of the Netherlands best-known defence lawyers, with an office of 23 staff in central Amsterdam. He is a regular fixture on Dutch news after a number of high profile cases.
“Bitcoin offers considerable benefits: speed, low transaction fees, being able to function as a cheap and safe store of value.”
Now he's back in the news again, this time for deciding to accept bitcoin as payment for all his legal fees.
According to Plasman's office, the system is already up and running. They have set up a contract with the Atlanta-based payment processing company Bitpay and Plasman is already advertising bitcoin as a payment option on his website.
As it stands, his firm is still waiting for the first transaction to take place but say there are “many people who are interested in paying with bitcoin”.
Plasman himself has been interested in bitcoin “for some time" but has not yet had a case involving the digital currency. Rather, his interest comes from a customer service perspective. His office said in a written statement:
“Mr Plasman [...] believes bitcoin offers considerable benefits: speed, low transaction fees, being able to function as a cheap and safe store of value. By pioneering and accepting Bitcoin as the first in his field, he hopes to spur adoption of the technology.”
Across the Atlantic, several US defence lawyers already accept bitcoin as payments for legal services. In July 2013, Manhattan law firm Nesenoff & Miltenberg announced that they would accept bitcoin for legal fees.
Additionally, in December 2013 the office of South Carolina-based lawyer David Aylor announced that he had accepted a bitcoin payment - representing the first legal fee paid with bitcoin in the US. A website called Coinlaw is also providing legal advice online and accept payments in bitcoin.
For the general public, bitcoin is often associated with the murky world of crime and online drug trading. Plasman says he is aware that in accepting the cryptocurrency he may face criticism for being “too close” with the criminal world. He maintains that this is something that defence lawyers must always pay attention to, and deal with in an appropriate manner. His office said:
“He takes the bitcoin phenomenon very seriously, wants to take a pioneering position and is not afraid of the public opinion in doing so.”
Good news for anyone with a bitcoin wallet and trouble with the law in the Netherlands. If you are considering his services, you'll have to make sure your wallet is fully loaded, as Plasman charges €300 (around $408) per hour.
Image Courtesy of Peter Plasman's Website