Small Law Firm Accounting Software

accounting and bookkeeping

One reason why people incorporate their businesses in the first place is that it provides a legal separation between them and their company. Accountants sometimes call this the “corporate veil,” and it’s what protects owners and their assets from any legal action taken against the company. But if you’re confident that you can strategically use a credit card to grow your business and pay off your bill in full each month, having a business credit card can be helpful. Once you’ve chosen a bank to work with, you’ll want to open a business checking account, a savings account, and an IOLTA . Whether you’re a small law firm or large, follow the steps in this guide, and get on the path to financial clarity and success. You can’t wait until right before tax time to start tracking your finances.

Clearly presented financial data will help you identify areas in your business that may need tweaking for optimal functionality. With the accrual method, on the other hand, you enter an expense or revenue the moment it is incurred or earned. For example, when you invoice a client for services, the money they owe you is entered into the books as revenue. Once your firm receives a bill, the expense goes on the books. Law firms may remove funds from the IOLTA trust bank account when they have earned them.

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With cash accounting, you don’t have to pay taxes on earned money until it has been deposited into your account. This can help you defer tax liability until you are in an optimal position to address it. Solutions without built-in, specialized law firm accounting features require a high degree of customization and can only be used by a highly trained law firm accountant. And frequently, the required customization can make the software cumbersome and more difficult to use. Additionally, users can generate reports by category or bill type to analyze their finances.

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It’s critical your trust accounting and record keeping meets the Law Society of British Columbia’s compliance standards. When you work with ProFix, you can rest assured it’s done right, on demand, remotely, or in your office. You’re busy providing legal services and developing business, so that Uber expense to meet a client sometimes falls through the cracks.

And when you commingle your personal and business finances, the following problems can arise. Many attorneys prefer to get paid by credit card (online or in-person), which incur their own special fees. Sometimes these fees can become hard to track, causing you to charge the wrong client’s account. To prevent misappropriating funds from other clients, remember to only charge your clients for fees directly relating to their trust account.

How to Effectively Do Bookkeeping for a Law Firm – Tips from an Accountant and Bookkeeper

You get all the benefits of full time staff member without the expense or hassle of hiring, training, and worrying about staff turnover. At Bookkeeping That Doesn’t Suck , we provide quality bookkeeping and trust account reconciliation. Our clients are small law firms who understand the importance of active financial management and entrepreneurs who want to know their numbers and want to make their law firms work for them. Most law firms should start by using the cash basis accounting method. The IRS won’t require you to use the specific rules necessary to implement the accrual method until you’re making $10 million a year.

  • FreshBooks accounting software is built around ensuring you get paid every penny for your hard work.
  • 2) The accrual method is more complex than the cash method and can therefore be more difficult to keep track of.
  • We’ve seen firms using these accounts to hide assets or as a savings account.
  • Accountants also help you with strategic tax planning, analyzing your business financial position, forecasting, and tax filling.

For example, you can use the “Legal Billing” app to track your time, and then enter all of your billable hours into your accounting software. Double-entry accounting is a system of bookkeeping where every financial transaction is recorded in at least two different accounts. Keeping clients informed and upholding safekeeping requirements are critical practices for maintaining compliance with client funds. You can also set key performance indicators to help you accurately monitor your firm’s financial performance. To ensure easy expense reimbursements, it’s a good idea to require that all employees and partners use a company credit card. Doing this makes it easier to track expenses for each client and partner and creates a more direct paper trail.

What You Need to Know About the Child Tax Credit

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 and records all the money coming in and all the money going out so that it appears in the correct place. Making the jump from an attorney to running a law firm can bring a ton of new intimidating challenges. 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.


Industry specific accounting software is always the way to go and attorney-specific software actually does exist. More errors occur with trust accounting than any other area of accounting for law firms. In fact, trust accounts are a unique component of legal accounting.

Track your tax deductions

One of these is to maintain detailed and comprehensive records for their client’s trust accounts. One should be an operating bank account and there should be a separate account for Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts . If you’re looking to move outside of the Quickbooks universe, Xero is a fast-growing and popular online software option. Xero is substantially cheaper than Quickbooks, so it might make sense if you’re just getting started. 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. The benefit of this approach is that you have a more realistic understanding of your law firm’s income and expenses.

Partner with LawPay Join best-in-legal-payments team as a LawPay Partner and help lead innovation in the legal industry through tech integrations, referral alliances, and consultants. Alliance Partners LawPay builds strategic alliances with trusted legal professionals who serve as consultants and referral partners, bringing users valuable solutions and consulting. Integrations LawPay is integrated into industry solutions to create an elevated legal software user experience. Ensure all tax filings are completed correctly and on time to avoid potential penalties or legal issues. It takes years to build a strong attorney reputation and one second to destroy it. Law firms are held to a high standard and suffer greatly when errors occur, even when the errors are unintentional and understandable.

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Law firms must follow certain legal industry regulations based on their jurisdiction. If you don’t have an effective bookkeeping and accounting system in place, you risk missed payments, late payments, missed filings, late filings, or a mismanagement of funds. A less-than-stellar reputation can lead to a loss of business and even run your law firm into the ground.

Take Advantage of Accounting Software & Tools

You can classify trips as business or personal later on and add client information. They can also be used to calculate tax deductions, control mileage costs, and plan for future expenses. The FUTA tax rate is 6%, which taxes wages up to the first $7,000 earned by the employee during the year. There are also state and sometimes municipal payroll taxes to be collected. Speak to your accountant to make sure you are correctly withholding each payroll tax.

financial reports

Lawyers are required to deposit all short-term and nominal client funds in an IOLTA account. They mustn’t deposit client funds in accounts that do not bear interests, or in their business accounts. Law firms can use double-entry bookkeeping as a way to better monitor the financial health of a company. 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.

  • Even though legal accounting is a little more complex, there are some things that you can do to make the accounting process for law firms go as smoothly as possible.
  • By tracking these costs throughout the year, you can ensure that you maximize your tax deductions come tax time.
  • You should hold on to these supporting documents for the specified time required by the IRS.

In the method, you record a transaction when it actually occurs. The key is to actively monitor things so you know when and what to adjust. If you’re missing your budgeted numbers, you can reduce expenses, delay one time purchases, increase sales through more aggressive marketing or advertising, or lower your profit expectations.

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Get in touch to learn more about our virtual accounting solutions today. We understand it’s your law firm, and you want to know what’s going on with your numbers. We pride ourselves on providing accurate and timely reporting, and we’ll take the time to explain everything we do. Once you develop a bookkeeping system, business owners will want to consider working with a CPA or professional tax accountant around tax time to handle tax returns. While there are some outsourced services that offer this functionality, so far I’ve found that working with individuals and small accounting firms is better for this task.

An accountant or bookkeeper can help a law firm by providing experience with the WSBA and getting their bookkeeping in order. A three-way reconciliation involves reconciling the trust bank account to the trust ledger and reconciling the trust ledger to the individual client ledgers. Every state bar association requires that a law firm reconcile their trust bank statement to their clients’ individual balances either monthly or quarterly. Regardless of the size of your law firm, it’s important to know accounting and bookkeeping basics to ensure that your business is compliant with ethics rules. In this article, we present law firm accounting tips and best practices for accurate and efficient accounting, along with the challenges unique to law firms.

FreshBooks allows your law firm to practice and process accounting procedures from anywhere in the world. In many law firms, one employee handles all the bookkeeping and other back-office functions, leaving the company vulnerable during instances of illness, sick leave, or vacation. Beyond knowing how to assign billable hours and ensuring that invoices are sent and paid on time, take advantage of budgeting andfinancial analysis services. Supporting Strategies can evaluate your day-to-day operations and suggest improvements that have the potential to transform the financial management of your law firm.

The more methods of payment you have, the higher the odds are of a client working with you. Accountants rely on bookkeepers to keep accurate and timely financial statements. Whether you do the bookkeeping yourself or outsource it to a professional, it’s a crucial task. Law schools offer little to no training on how to manage these accounts. So, many lawyers go into the field without knowing the best practice surrounding trust accounts and how to manage them.

When you prepaid rent collect funds that you’re owed, you miss out on revenue and are essentially working for free. And when you’re missing out on 12% of your billable hours, that’s 4.8 hours in a standard 40-hour workweek. When you incorporate your business, you essentially separate yourself from the business entity. It’s called the “corporate veil,” and it protects business owners and their personal assets from legal action taken against the company.

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