Law Firm Bookkeeping 101 Bench Accounting


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If your law firm doesn’t already have business bank accounts, it’s time to open them. Most firms will need three business bank accounts at a minimum—checking, savings, and a separate IOLTA or trust account. Without the proper business bank accounts, you risk inaccurate bookkeeping, messy records, and potential compliance violations regarding trust funds. Trust accounts are one of the most common areas where legal accounting mistakes are made.

These are some reasons through which Accounts Junction can help you out to achieve better efficiency in bookkeeping and accounting. We want you to consider Accounts Junction as an extension of your law firm and a company that truly cares about your success. Feel free to contact us anytime, Our Accounting experts will work with you to provide no obligation quote for our value for money accounting and bookkeeping Running Law Firm Bookkeeping: Consider the Industry Specifics in the Detailed Guide services. When pressed for time, it’s tempting to let recordkeeping fall by the wayside. But if your law firm bookkeeping isn’t up to date, it’s tough to stay on top of cash flow and ensure client funds are handled properly. Accrual accounting is a more sophisticated method that records revenue and expenses at the time they are earned or incurred, regardless of when you receive the money.

Credit Card Activity and Reconciliations

Once you understand the basics, consider hiring an accountant, either as a contractor or as an employee. They can help level up your firm and make the legal accounting process even smoother by adding legal accounting and legal practice management software to your firm’s toolkit. Using legal technology can ease the workload of manual tasks while helping your firm meet its goals—avoiding errors, ensuring compliance, and staying organized.

​​We are dedicated to keeping clients abreast of tax law changes, planning strategies and vital tax-related information. Quickly and easily capture time, create invoices and streamline accounts receivable. Using our technology, accounting solutions & hardware leads to cost savings, reducing your team’s time spent on buying, implementation & upkeep. We recommend choosing one or the other to prevent confusion and for the most accurate overview of your firm’s finances. You can’t wait until right before tax time to start tracking your finances.

QuickBooks Online: For streamlined legal accounting

Lawyers spend years honing their legal skills, but they often have little knowledge of accounting practices. The following tips can help you get a better handle on your finances. Poor accounting practices, such as struggling to track billable hours or sending out invoices late, can lead to money leakage. The firm could face compliance issues, and their books will be inaccurate (skewing the value of any accounting data derived from them). IOLTA accounts are designed to keep client funds separate from your typical business or operating account—where you are allowed to accrue interest.

law firm bookkeeping service

Look into the pros and cons of both methods for your firm, then be consistent going forward to ensure your records are accurate and easy to track. This gives you the best of both worlds while making your law firm’s comprehensive accounting situation easier to manage. By using sound bookkeeping practices to keep accurate records and consistently review the firm’s financial statements on a monthly or weekly basis, you’ll see your firm’s true financial picture. Committing to accounting for law firms will allow you to be better equipped to identify growth opportunities. In other industries, it is allowed to keep clients’ prepayments in your operating account and use the money to fund client projects. But legal bookkeeping and accounting in law firms are different than for other businesses.

Practice Development Consulting

Many lawyers go to one or the other extreme—they either claim everything (and possibly more than they’re allowed to), or they’re so afraid to overstep they miss out on tax deductions. Accounting for law firms is often intimidating—even for seasoned lawyers. While you’ve spent years honing your skills to become a great lawyer, you didn’t learn about accounting or bookkeeping for attorneys at law school. At The Legal Accountant, we go beyond just bookkeeping for law firms. We provide additional reporting and analysis so that you understand your numbers and how they impact your firm and your goals!

We’re on a mission to help every lawyer achieve financial independence. You don’t have to wait, we wait for your call to support the accounting business. When it comes to Trust/IOLTA accounting, we adhere to a careful process that eliminates errors and establishes strict procedures for handling client retainers and subsequent disbursements. First, let’s review typical accounting and bookkeeping functions that need to happen regularly so you can make sure you’ve got these covered. Track and code credit card transactions to the GL and ensure statements agree to GL.

Tips for Operating a Paperless Law Firm

And the security in your ability to satisfy Trust/IOLTA compliance, along with the financial reporting to make informed decisions. You need an accounting partner with industry expertise and applied knowledge, and at Lescault and Walderman, your satisfaction is our benchmark for success. If not, you may spend more time on manual data entry than you should. Working with a CFO and professional legal accountant will give your firm access to advanced tech. Outsourced bookkeeping for law firms makes the process much easier. Instead of a lengthy hiring process, it’s as easy as checking up on reviews for outsourcing companies.

  • Have you ever tried to balance your checkbook, only to find you’re a quarter off somewhere?
  • It’s certainly time-consuming, and takes you away from working on your caseload.
  • We can create invoices based on documentary evidence such as service/ product delivery confirmations and sale order copies.
  • 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.
  • From billing and invoicing to collections and reporting, it is a series of numerous tasks, and each one should be handled with an eye to accuracy and detail.

Daily bookkeeping gives you better information about the financial state of your law firm, while monthly bookkeeping will keep you guessing. Now that you understand that bookkeeping happens first, I suggest you figure out the best way to handle bookkeeping before we move on to legal accounting. An IOLTA account is a pool, interest-bearing business checking account for the deposit of client funds which interest earned belongs to the Lawyer Trust Fund.

How to handle IOLTAs in your bookkeeping

Implement the right accounting software for your firm to save time, work, and money. Gain a better understanding of your firm’s cash flow and ensure that every transaction is accurately recorded with proper supporting detail. Practice Alchemyʼs team of legal bookkeeping experts know how to build and deploy successful bookkeeping programs to ensure your books are diligently and accurately kept. Juris Bookkeeping was founded by Annette Fadness, a former law firm administrator turned bookkeeper who saw a need for specialized attorney bookkeeping. Watson™ can help you increase your visibility and to clients and potential clients. We offer a full range of billing and accounting products, services, training, and technical support for the legal industry.

  • Instead of debiting cash and crediting income, you should debit the IOLTA account with a corresponding credit to Trust Account Liabilities.
  • Bookkeeping happens first and relates to the administrative side of tracking your cash.
  • Watson™ is redefining law firm back-office management and administration with its innovative, best-in-class solutions tailored to its clients’ particular needs.
  • Or maybe you’re just starting your firm and want to begin on the right foot.
  • Conversely, cash basis accounting recognizes revenue when you’re paid (i.e., when the cash is received) and expenses when they’re paid.
  • Accordingly, our managing partners and principal attorneys have a better visibility into the firm’s income capabilities.
  • Most small businesses, including small law firms, choose the cash basis of accounting, as this method allows the firm to delay paying taxes on income until the payment comes in the door.