How We Work with Law Firms

checking account

While you didn’t get into to practice accounting, putting in the work at the beginning will make it easier to file your taxes each year. Plus, you’ll save yourself the headache of dealing with accounting issues, and you’ll always have accurate financial statements available. If a bookkeeper performs day-to-day tasks like data entry, a legal accountant looks at the big picture.

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Your bookkeeper should be a trusted partner, not someone that is quietly ruining your financial life. If you’re managing your books yourself, there are a few common mistakes that crop up from time-to-time and here’s how to avoid them. Whenever you manually enter data into the books, you leave room for errors like a duplicated entry or a wrong number.

Recording Trust Accounts as Income

Any CPA should be willing to sit down with you for a free consultation. Many lawyers assume their bookkeeper can or should help them with their financial analysis and get frustrated when they don’t. If you understand the different roles and skillsets each position has, you’ll be able to assess what type of help they can provide to you. The Trust Reconciliation – the trust bank statement provides a third-party verification to the transactions posted to the trust account.

  • We recommend choosing one or the other to prevent confusion and for the most accurate overview of your firm’s finances.
  • Legal accounting software is designed to help law firms with bookkeeping, allowing them to keep track of their finances in an efficient and compliant manner.
  • Clear financial data reporting and analysis provides confidence in operational decision, management, transparency, and partner trust.
  • Help you process and send invoices, process your accounts payable, and run your payroll.
  • Law firm accounting is more complex than plain business accounting.

Speaking of expenses, one of the most common mistakes attorneys make is losing track of business expenses. It’s best to capture and record your business expenses on the daily, so you don’t lose those receipts or invoices. Then, set aside a time each week to make sure they are coded properly in your books. First things first, bookkeeping and accounting aren’t the same things.

It is essential for law firms to maintain a professional reputation in order to ensure the success of their business. Without proper bookkeeping and accounting, mistakes can be made that could potentially damage a law firm’s reputation and result in loss of clients, referrals, and growth opportunities. Law firms need to ensure that their financial and accounting practices are up to par in order to grow their businesses. For example, in order to ensure that client funds are not comingled with operating funds, attorneys must maintain a separate bank account for these funds. This is just one of the many compliance regulations that law firms must adhere to.

Thinking Ahead to Next Year: Changes to Taxes Under the New Law

Legal bookkeepers and legal accountants work with your firm’s financials, with the shared goal of helping your firm financially grow and succeed. If you don’t establish a plan, then it’s hard to attain goals. In order for your law firm to be successful, it’s essential to create a budget. A budget will act as your road map in keeping your firm on track while pursuing those goals.

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Our post covering the top tax deductions for lawyers and law firms is a good place to start. Both general accounting and trust accounting are necessary for your firm’s success—and integrations seamlessly tie the two areas together. So, with double-entry accounting, every financial transaction gets sorted into a specific category . Once those transactions are sorted, the two sides should match.

What to look for in a legal bookkeeper

While the trust ledger includes all trust transactions across all clients, the individual client ledgers separate these transactions by client. The sum of all the client ledgers must equal the balance in the trust ledger. There should be no reconciling or outstanding items because entries in the trust ledger and client ledger should happen simultaneously.


Which method you choose will affect cash flow, tax filing, and even how you do your bookkeeping. Make sure to consult with a CPA before settling on the method you’ll use. While mismanaging an IOLTA account carries stiff penalties, many law schools offer little to no training when it comes to managing trust accounts. As a result, attorneys often find themselves making several common mistakes again and again. Follow these rules and keep track of client funds every day to ensure you don’t cross any lines that can cause your firm serious problems. Anyone wanting to run a legit business should never combine personal and business expenses.

Making Data Entry Mistakes

Create a budgeting system and setting up automated reminders to help keep spending in check. Law firms must know that there is essentially no wiggle room for errors. Trust account liability almost operates like strict liability, where simply committing an act is proof enough for guilt. If you are on the fence about TimeSolv, you can take advantage of their 30-day free trial to give them a shot.

accounting and bookkeeping

We are also Profit First certified, which is a trade discount management strategy designed to ensure that your firm is more profitable. Anyone who has started a business has been guilty of this mistake. Intermingling expenses isn’t a fatal mistake but it causes problems for your business when it comes to claiming expenses and tracking the financial health of your business. Your firm needs to keep track of your invoices so you know what money is owed to avoid this problem. Data entry errors lead to wasted time, as you comb through records to figure out what the error is, as well as billing complications and compliance violations in the worst cases.

Use financial reporting to identify opportunities

Bookkeeping is a vital task for law firms, as it helps them to record and monitor financial transactions and keep accounts in balance. Accountants must ensure that bookkeeping for law firms is done properly in order to provide reliable financial data. Legal accounting software is designed to help law firms with bookkeeping, allowing them to keep track of their finances in an efficient and compliant manner.

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PCLaw has made its name a one-stop shop that works well in any situation, especially with large law firms. Everything a big operation could want and need from an accounting software solution is available through PCLaw. Xero is growing fast as an accounting management option for small and growing law firms. One of its most attractive features is no limit on the number of users allowed access.

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And even you have an overview of what is bookkeeping and accounting, you wouldn’t know what involve when it comes to bookkeeping and accounting for law firms. Law firm accounting is more complex than plain business accounting. 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.

  • The cash basis accounting method is easier and more straightforward, which will free up your time to work on building your practice.
  • This number can be an average amount that takes into account that some months may be higher than others, depending on your area of practice and other market factors.
  • 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.

They summarize and organize all the company’s financial transactions chronologically in a systematic manner. In law firms, legal bookkeeping takes place first and relates to the administrative side of tracking cash. The good news is, we’ve made this guide to help you know the essentials of bookkeeping and accounting for law firms. Each aspect of law firm accounting is explained understandably and concisely. Trust accounts are one of the most common areas where legal accounting mistakes are made. Whether you mismanage the accounts, put funds in the wrong account, accidentally use funds, or fail to report correctly, trust accounting errors are a big deal in accounting for law firms.

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