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Bookkeeping for Law Firm Stay On Top of Your Books

how to do law firm bookkeeping what are its rules

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. As a solo attorney, managing your books via accounting software may get you started. Yet, if you own a small firm with multiple attorneys, employees, or contractors, hiring a bookkeeper is more than worth it. Once you master the basics of accounting for lawyers, you can better navigate the everyday challenges unique to the legal industry.

how to do law firm bookkeeping what are its rules

All law firms require bookkeeping and accounting services as their accounts are regulated by the SRA Accounts Rules. It is important to find a professional company who understand the way these rules should be interpreted. Their bookkeepers will deal with the accounts on a day to day basis and refer to external accounting services for preparation of year end tax returns and other financial management. Law firm bookkeeping records the financial transactions and balances the financial accounts for your firm.

Choose your accounting method

If the bank does not waive monthly and other fees in excess of interest or dividends earned on an account, those expenses may be charged to the attorney. In that case, the State Bar’s taxpayer identification number will be removed from the account, and the attorney will be responsible for all fees and A Deep Dive into Law Firm Bookkeeping charges incurred to maintain the account. When you track time, send out invoices, receive payment, and disburse payments to the lawyers at your law practice, you are creating useful data that could help law firm productivity. When law firm bookkeeping, there is a simple way to avoid these errors.

On the other hand, income refers to what is left over after the firm’s costs and expenses have been deducted from the revenue. Taxes, property expenses, legal dues, and payroll are typical expenses law firms must deduct from revenue to get income. Mixing up the two can give you a false picture of your firm’s financial health. Most lawyers do so with the help of law firm accounting software.

Welcome to Attorney at Work!

The terms bookkeeping and accounting can sometimes be used interchangeably. Legal bookkeepers and legal accountants work with your firm’s financials with the shared goal of helping your firm financially grow and succeed. You’ll also want to decide how your firm will track incoming and outgoing funds. Your business’s accounting method will affect cash flow, tax filing, and even how you do your bookkeeping.

  • Bookkeepers work directly to keep financial records in order at the law firm.
  • The advantages of legal accounting software multiply with today’s cloud-based solutions.
  • By reconciling accounts regularly, tracking transactions, and maintaining accurate records, you can help avoid penalties and fines.
  • Recording them as anything but that could land you in hot water with regulators and mess up your taxes.
  • Use software such as Clio Manage to help track your billable time, expenses and revenue.

Your financial strategy will help you plan, strategize, and shift as you need to, helping you grow a financially healthy law firm. Each month, take some time to reconcile your budget compared to your reality, making changes that benefit your bottom line. Many lawyers assume their bookkeeper can or should help them with their financial analysis and get frustrated when they don’t.

Law Firm Accounting 101

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. Also, ask if you are eligible to receive a tax credit for paying timely state unemployment taxes. Employment taxes are reported using a Form W-2 for each employee, and Form 940 and Form 941 if you withhold any taxes from an employee’s paycheck.

how to do law firm bookkeeping what are its rules

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. It’s similar to two-way reconciliation, where you compare your bank account balance to your company’s books to make sure it matches. When you have a trust account, you’re required (by the State Bar) to perform a three-way trust reconciliation every 30 to 90 days. To do so, you’d first need to transfer that money into your business account.


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