law firm bookkeeping

She has owned a bookkeeping and payroll service that specializes in small business, for over twenty years. How much are you spending on labor (employees’ salaries, taxes, and benefits) as a percentage of total revenue? With all the options available, we know it’s difficult to choose which software is the best choice for your firm. After all, you have to sift through the options alone, convince your partners to agree, and pray that it works as it should. These businesses are in all sorts of industries from advertising to real estate.

Make one mistake when recording your debits and credits, and your entire balance won’t add up. Accounting software where you download transactions can help avoid this error, as can double-checking entries as you go. The most powerful solution to this problem is taking the time to update your books frequently .

Top 5 Legal Accounting Software for Modern Law Firms

My team and I take care of your books for you, so you can get back to doing what you really love, practicing law. As a solo practitioner or small law firm owner, you have more important things to do with your time than manage your books. Accrual accounting records revenues and expenses when they are earned and incurred, regardless of when the money is actually received or paid.

The money in a CTA isn’t immediately yours — you’re called a fiduciary, requiring you to exercise the highest standard of care with your client’s funds. You can only move CTA funds into your business operating account after your client approves an invoice. Law firms juggle their clients’ money more than in most industries. Accountants in law spend much of their time tracking what money the firm earned and what needs to go to clients, the courts, or third parties. Choosing an accounting method is another piece of the financial puzzle for a new company. Before the firm files its first tax return, it must select its method of accounting.

Making Data Entry Mistakes

To do so, you’d first need to transfer that money into your business account. Instead, employ good accounting and budgeting practices, so you don’t need to dip into these fees in the first place. They have their own rules and regulations that vary depending on your jurisdiction. If you mismanage this account, you could face severe consequences, including disbarment. Law firms are expected to have a separate but essential trust account, typically called an IOLTA. Plus, if you want to outsource to accountants or legal bookkeepers, having a solid foundation will make it 10x easier. These are funds you must keep separate from your firm’s operating funds.

  • Your outstanding A/R will also provide information on cash you should receive in the near future.
  • You’re much more likely to stay organized if you start off organized.
  • You may also hire a bookkeeper who specializes in working with law firms if you’re looking for extra help in this department.
  • Your primary expense will be the time you devote to bookkeeping, which keeps you from tasks that generate income for your law firm such as billing clients or developing new business.
  • Tracked time is then easily accessible for staff members when its time to create invoices.
  • It is best practice for most attorneys to keep at least two different bank accounts—an account for operating and a separate account for IOLTA.

Quickbooks is still the leader in accounting software, making it a reasonable first choice for lawyers. Quickbooks is also the leading software for integrating with practice management software, so I can see why many lawyers would choose it. The Quickbooks pricing model is still a “software as a service” though, so you can expect to pay a monthly fee.

Maximize Billable Time & Cash Flow

They mustn’t deposit client funds in accounts that do not bear interests, or in their business accounts. Every business needs to have a bookkeeping and accounting process. Although the roles of bookkeeping and accounting are different, there is a thin line to distinguish between them. Sync contacts, invoices, financial information, and transactions to eliminate repetitive data entry. Creating invoices that explain what funds were removed from a trust and what remains in their trust account. Set goals, including personal (how many vacations do you want to take in a year?) and business (how fast do you want your firm’s revenues to grow?). Specify the controls applicable to the handling of cash within a law firm.

Managing trust accounts is one of the unique aspects of legal accounting, and the consequences of mishandling them can be significant. Not only will you incur fines, but you could also lose your license or face legal repercussions. For example, job costing is a strategy lawyers can law firm bookkeeping use to ensure their financial records are easy to interpret and analyze. It’s a form of cost accounting that involves assigning every expense you incur to a specific project. Every small business owner should have a separate bank account for their personal and business activities.

With organized financial data, you can better identify opportunities to reduce your overhead, earn more money, and plan for the future. In our opinion, this is an oversight, as mismanaging these accounts can lead to serious consequences, even disbarment. Keeping your firm professional in all matters goes a long way toward attracting new clients and high-quality employees. Here are some reasons why accounting is key to your firm’s success. If you want your firm to be financially healthy and thrive well into the future, you need to pay attention to your finances. Make sure your trust account and/or IOLTA are included in your COA.

4 Special Accounting Considerations for Law Firms – The Motley Fool

4 Special Accounting Considerations for Law Firms.

Posted: Wed, 18 May 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

Whatever the reason, borrowing from an IOLTA is one of the most common ways to get disbarred. Once you’ve chosen an accountant to work with, use these questions to guide your initial conversation. If you’re serious about growing your business, you need to team up with a Certified Public Accountant early on. Making collections more straightforward and secure, so your firm can get paid faster. You can also use this information to identify what parts of your practice are most and least successful—so you can more thoughtfully allocate resources to stimulate future growth.


Continuing with the theme of setting yourself up for success from day one, make sure that you take advantage of software’s ability to streamline your accounting processes as soon as possible. Much like practicing law, accounting requires extensive training and in-depth knowledge of intricate rules. Making mistakes can lead to penalties and interest or audits from the Internal Revenue Service . Bookkeeping for a law office involves recording your day-to-day transactions and maintaining clean financial records. It’s an almost administrative task that involves relatively low levels of critical reasoning.