The Green Sheet Online Edition
September 14, 2009 • Issue 09:09:01
Providing clarity to contracts
Like many industry professionals, Jay Reeve found his way into the payments sphere by accident. Reeve, founder of Gun Barrel City, Texas-based The Reeve Law Firm, was a corporate attorney working for Jackson Walker LLC out of Dallas when he met a representative of Chase Paymentech LLC.
"I was doing mergers and acquisitions, securities, and general business transaction work, and one of our clients was Chase," Reeve said. "They had a need for an attorney with a corporate and transactional background, so I joined them in early 2000."
In July 2009, after nine years with Chase as Senior Counsel and Associate General Counsel responsible for the legal oversight of the company's strategic partner channel, Reeve struck out on his own.
Legal solutions enhance results
"What I enjoy as a payments lawyer is working with business people, listening to them talk about the new services and products they want to offer, helping them find new ways to market or present those products and services, then translating a contractual and legal framework that is more merchant friendly to help give my clients an advantage," Reeve said. "And protecting my clients - in a way that doesn't sacrifice their business goals - is at the core of what I do."
Reeve believes that merchant accounts can be boarded - or lost - depending on the way contracts are structured. He thinks of himself as a provider of "friendly" legal solutions that streamline his clients' processes and give them an advantage in closing tougher deals.
"In this industry the sales folks generate the money, so it's important to structure documents in a way that achieves the ultimate objective - which is to sign new business - as well as protect the company and give it a chance to flourish," Reeve said. "And I hate litigation, so I work exclusively on the side of the fence that keeps my clients away from court and out of problems."
Plain English facilitates sales
Reeve feels that basic merchant agreements - and, to an extent, ISO and agent agreements - are fairly sound from a legal standpoint but are often convoluted, making them difficult to understand. He noted that incomprehensible agreements only inhibit agents' ability to close deals because merchants cannot determine with certainty what their rights, obligations and fees are under such contracts.
"The problem with most agreements is that they're 15 pages long, written in 6-point font, and it's just absurd," Reeve said. "They're certainly not user-friendly and don't really even serve the ultimate purpose of what I think most of my clients and the industry itself is looking for - full, clear and accurate disclosure about fees, rules and requirements. It's in there; you just can't understand it."
He further pointed out that the card brand rules are structured in a way that puts merchants at a disadvantage, so it is critical they understand exactly what they're getting into when signing a processing contract.
Reeve believes he has a distinct ability to "take these ungodly documents, preserve and enhance the protections that are in there, cut out all the fat, and write things in plain English that are more palatable to both the sales agents and the merchants they're trying to board." He added that presenting a merchant "with a simpler version puts the agent in a much better position to make the sale."
Reeve's commitment to clarity is resolute, as is his desire for longevity in his career.
"I want to grow this business and be able to add to my knowledge base with other partners and attorneys," he said. "The new venture is a perfect vehicle for me to build the practice I want to build and serve my clients in a way that I think is rather unique. It's very important to me to give them something, provide a service that they don't always find out there in the industry and be critically involved in that process to give them the best chance for success."
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