Home » Law Firm Bookkeeping 101: Choosing The Best Accountant for Your Firm

Law Firm Bookkeeping 101: Choosing The Best Accountant for Your Firm

by Austiee Gosney

how to do law firm bookkeeping what are its rules

Attorneys spend several years practicing law after completing years of formal education and training. You might have also done the same and are now probably running your law firm. All these years, your professional life must have been around laws and the legal system but not accounting. However, if you are aware of bookkeeping and accounting basics, you wouldn’t know the core roles and responsibilities of professional bookkeepers and accountants. ZipBooks is considered by many to be the best accounting software for smaller law firms. On top of that, ZipBooks is more than reasonably affordable; it’s highly affordable compared to many options.

In addition, it is important to select an accountant or bookkeeper who is familiar with the software and systems used by the firm. This will make it easier for the accountant or bookkeeper to manage the firm’s financial data and produce accurate reports. For example,
If your law firm has multiple partners, you may want to consider hiring a bookkeeper to help keep track of the finances. Bookkeepers can help with tasks such as billing clients and monitoring expenses.

Monitoring the IOLTA account

Legal accounting and attorney bookkeeping are surely one of the largest you face. That’s why we recommend you should hire a professional legal account. If you want your firm to stay compliant, be financially successful, and grow, you need to have an accurate and clear bookkeeping system for your law firm to follow. This could mean taking on bookkeeping tasks in-house or hiring a professional bookkeeper with experience working with law firms. Entering numbers manually often leads to mistakes and duplicated data entry in the accounting process.

  • When you allow us to keep track of your finances, you give yourself more time to do your work and please more clients.
  • Work with your CPA to determine how you will meet your sales tax obligations before you do business.
  • If any of these three balances do not match, it could indicate errors in your financial record keeping and should be investigated immediately.
  • To ensure your firm’s financial statements are accurate, complete, and up-to-date, you need to use sound bookkeeping for attorneys.
  • Committing to accounting for law firms will allow you to be better equipped to identify growth opportunities.

In a three-way reconciliation, you need to make sure that your trust account statement aligns with the client trust ledger and the bank account ledger. You will need to reconcile the balance by checking off all withdrawals and all deposits against your records for each trust account. A lawyers’ trust account must be held at a designated financial institution and can hold cash of different types of currencies for a variety of reasons related to legal transactions or for legal services.

Specify Your Accounting Methods

In this day and age, it’s imperative to choose software designed to be accessed from anywhere, so you can get work done at all times without sacrificing efficiency. Rule 1.15 specifically requires a lawyer to preserve “complete records” with respect to a law firm’s trust accounts. It also obligates a lawyer to “promptly render a full accounting” for the receipt and distribution of trust property.

  • Easily track all money held in trust retainers and general retainers.
  • We understand what it’s like to have everything fall on your shoulders.
  • This results in wasted time, mismatched records, billing complications, and even compliance violations.
  • When choosing an accountant or bookkeeper for a law firm, it is important to select someone who has experience working with businesses in the legal industry.

Each of these records should be kept for a specific length of time—some for 10 years, some for as few as three. You can learn more about record retention periods in our guide to business recordkeeping. Bookkeeping is the process of recording daily transactions in a consistent way and is a key component of building long-term financial success. Putting it off means having to catch up at the end of the year—the more stressful and time consuming approach. Ask a CPA to help you determine which accounting method is best for your business, and stick with it.

Start by Hiring a Bookkeeper

You’re responsible for recording the receipt and disbursement of these funds and posting the transactions to the ledger accounts of clients. While not necessary, we recommend working with a bookkeeper who has experience working with law firms. Legal bookkeepers manage your finances on a transaction-by-transaction level while ensuring the books are balanced.

how to do law firm bookkeeping what are its rules

If you know where you are most successful and least successful, you can allocate resources to provide stimulation for future growth. It will be much easier to pick a few numbers and keep those top of mind. Many small firms find that outsourcing their bookkeeping functions is a great first step in delegating work off the owner’s plate. With those distinctions in mind, it becomes easier to see which type of professional help you might need. Turn your receipts into data and deductibles with our expense reports that include IRS-accepted receipt images. You can stuff your receipts into one of our Magic Envelopes (prepaid postage within the US).

As owners of our own law firms, we’ve made our fair share of mistakes. Unfortunately, bookkeeping mistakes have consequences for your business, income taxes, and license. Remember earlier when we discussed setting up a https://dodbuzz.com/running-law-firm-bookkeeping/ Chart of Accounts in Chapter 1? Your bookkeeper goes into your accounting software regularly (at least weekly) and records all the money coming in and all the money going out so that it appears in the correct place.

This is just one of the many compliance regulations that law firms must adhere to. The benefits of bookkeeping for a law firm include having accurate financial data, staying compliant with regulations, and being able to track finances. An accountant or bookkeeper can help a law firm by providing experience with the WSBA and getting their bookkeeping in order. Each month, a team of professional bookkeepers with experience in legal accounting gathers your data for you and turns it into accurate financial statements. You also get smart software to help you monitor your finances and stay in control of cash flow. Despite the rise of online payments in the legal profession, some of the current Bar Association rules around law firm accounting were created back when everyone was still paid by check.

Clio Manage: For legal practice management that supports accounting for law firms

Maintaining your books on a regular basis ensures that all of your financial transactions are accurately recorded and organized. This makes it much easier for your accountant to prepare financial statements and tax returns. For example, if a business owner is not keeping accurate records of expenses, they may be overpaying taxes or missing out on deductions that could save the business money.

how to do law firm bookkeeping what are its rules

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