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best bookkeeping pratices for small law firm

Understanding this information will also help you identify areas of your practice that are the least successful and the most successful. If you know where you are most successful and least successful, you can allocate resources to provide stimulation for future growth. As your budget year crawls on, you can adjust numbers to more accurately reflect reality and plan the rest of the year accordingly. See what strategic opportunities you have for reinvestment and plug those into your budget. If you’re trending behind, it is better to know sooner rather than later so you can react accordingly.

The December 31 bank statement shows a balance that is $10,000 less than your books or the client’s trust ledger due to a timing difference. You would note this in your reconciliation report and ensure your January 31 bank statement includes the deposit. Within each of those categories, you may have dozens of general ledger accounts.

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When a lawyer holds onto a client’s money, they store it in a trust account. While not necessary, we recommend working with a bookkeeper who has experience working with law firms. Two core tasks of a legal bookkeeper include data entry and bank reconciliation. Without a trusted bookkeeper for attorneys, a legal accountant won’t have any data work off of. Legal bookkeepers manage your finances on a transaction-by-transaction level while ensuring the books are balanced. They take count of every transaction the firm makes, watching what money comes in and goes out.

best bookkeeping pratices for small law firm

You can learn more about record retention periods in our guide to business recordkeeping. You should also keep any other documentary evidence that supports an item of income, a deduction, or credit shown on your tax return. Bookkeeping tasks are ongoing and can be performed daily, weekly, or monthly. Whether you do the task yourself or law firm bookkeeping outsource it to a pro, the goal is to make sure your books are accurate, up-to-date, and useful to you and your CPA. If any of these balances don’t match each other, that means there’s a mistake in one of your ledgers. To fix it, you have to go over each transaction to make sure it was entered into your accounting system properly.


Help you process and send invoices, process your accounts payable, and run your payroll. Your bookkeeper can also run routine financial reports for you, including the income statement and balance sheet described in Chapter 1. Remember earlier when we discussed setting up a 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. First things first, bookkeeping and accounting aren’t the same things. Although they share a common goal, they occur at different stages of managing your firm’s finances.

  • Keeping all of your business expenses in your business account makes it way easier for your accountant to sort through transactions come tax season.
  • There are many reasons for this, one of which is poor accounting practices.
  • Yes, QuickBooks lets you customize invoices to reflect your practice’s logo, information, and billing rates.
  • CosmoLex is cloud-based, which means you run the software from a web browser.
  • MyCase is less robust than competitors and a better fit for small firms without complex accounting and reporting needs.
  • You can even automate everything with auto-billing and automated payment reminders.

CosmoLex is cloud-based, which means you run the software from a web browser. Tabs3 has been around a long time, and has a reputation for being a robust accounting platform, backed by excellent user support. In addition, your firm may need to supplement PCLaw with a dedicated Document Management System to securely manage firm documents and email. You also need to understand your responsibilities regarding employment tax and employment law fully.

Don’t borrow money from an IOLTA

The Quickbooks pricing model is still a “software as a service” though, so you can expect to pay a monthly fee. This is why it often makes sense for small law firms to choose accounting software specifically designed for law businesses. TrustBooks is unique in that it’s stand-alone software for Trust Accounting. Many law firms use QuickBooks for their core accounting, but acknowledge that QuickBooks does not follow the rigid Trust Accounting rules. (Some law firms try anyway, or worse yet, use an Excel spreadsheet to manage trust accounts). Financial accounting is the process of documenting, summarizing, and reporting transactions generated by a law firm over time.

  • Centerbase is arguably one of the most customizable LPM applications, though that customization may require an outside consultant.
  • You should budget for an accountant and bookkeeper to assist you with managing your firm’s finances and ensuring you’re compliant with ethics regulations.
  • They can use your financial data to understand what it tells you about your business.
  • Thankfully, there are a lot of tools available to help you manage your trust accounts, so you don’t have to go at it alone.
  • They check-in with us weekly or more, and they maintain and upgrade our financial systems as our firm continues to grow.
  • How your business pays income tax is determined by your business’s legal structure.

Whether intentional or through neglect, violations of compliance regulations—like mishandling client funds—can lead to serious repercussions. Uptime Legal continues to innovate and disrupt the legal tech industry. Google Drive, part of Google Workspace, is a popular cloud storage and file backup service. Google Drive is part of the Google Ecosystem which means its easily accessible from your Android phone and integrates with other services such as Google Docs and Google Photos.


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