bookkeeping for small law firm

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 here to help you go beyond compliance and start achieving your financial goals, whatever they may be. Time is the most precious asset a lawyer possesses, and we’re here to ensure you have the tools to maximize your law firm accounting efficiency. And the security in your ability to satisfy Trust/IOLTA compliance, along with the financial reporting to make informed decisions.

We’ll dive more into the specifics of why you need a CPA later on in this piece, but trust us when we say hiring one will make your life much easier. With that said, here are the steps we recommend you follow, whether you’re a small or large firm. Your budget is a vital tool for keeping you in control of expenditure and making sure you’re not overspending. These best practices all come back to one idea — staying organized. You want to pay attention to the ABA’s rules, as not doing so could lead to some severe consequences.


This will help you stay on top of your finances and make sure that you’re not overspending. There are a few key things that lawyers need to keep in mind when it comes to bookkeeping for their law firms. For example, if a lawyer has $10,000 in their business account and $5,000 in their trust account, they would need to deposit the $5,000 into a separate trust account. The lawyer would then need to surrender any interest earned on the $5,000 to the client. Similarly, if you entertain clients frequently, you will want to keep track of those expenses as well. By tracking these costs throughout the year, you can ensure that you maximize your tax deductions come tax time.

bookkeeping for small law firm

This will help you make sure that you’re bringing in enough money to cover your costs and hopefully make a profit. The accrual method of accounting is an accounting method that records economic events regardless of when the cash is actually received or paid. When an invoice is paid, you must first allocate the payment to the incurred cost. Nevertheless, many attorneys fail to separate revenue that covers incurred costs from their actual income. Failure to allocate appropriately can lead to inaccurate books, and battle compliance issues.

Law Firm Bookkeeping 101: How to Choose The Best Accountant for Your Firm

Automate your trust accounting by using legal accounting software platforms with cloud capabilities. Law firm bookkeeping records the financial transactions and balances the financial accounts for your firm. Legal bookkeeping takes place before any accounting can occur and is an essential administrative task for any law firm. Reliable bookkeeping for attorneys also provides accurate financial data for legal accountants to work with. Lawyers often make common mistakes when bookkeeping for their law firms.

Quickly and easily capture time, create invoices and streamline accounts receivable. Offload your firm’s day-to-day legal bookkeeping needs so you can focus on what really matters. We continue to invest in industry-leading accounting and finance technology. Forward thinking professional service firms need to have an eye on the future and must have a strategy that allows them to implement technology that drives their firms forward.

Financial reporting to find opportunities

The IRS doesn’t require you to keep records of certain expenses under $75, but we still recommend that to be safe, you keep copies of all records. As every business is different, your choice of the “right bank” depends on the nature of your practice, as well as how you prefer to handle your banking transactions. First, let’s review typical accounting and bookkeeping functions that need to happen regularly so you can make sure you’ve got these covered. Be sure to keep track of all payments made, both to third parties and internally, in order to stay on top of your finances.

bookkeeping for small law firm

While the chart of accounts is customized to your law firm’s size, jurisdiction, and practice area, it typically includes five core categories in addition to numerous subcategories. Accounting for law firms lets you collect and analyze information, and make law firm bookkeeping data-driven decisions based on what money comes in and leaves your firm, so it’s worth it to pay attention. FreshBooks Select is a custom plan built to save time and money, and ensure your growing legal business has the accounting solution it needs.

Intermingling Personal & Business Expenses

Keeping your firm professional in all matters goes a long way toward attracting new clients and high-quality employees. These rules and regulations change with every jurisdiction, so it’s a good idea to become familiar with what’s expected of you before jumping in. 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.

While this primarily applies to new law firms, ensuring that the basics are determined and set up correctly is critical. And a lack of professionalism can lead to losing your clients, referrals, and growth opportunities. Opting for a part-time or contracted high-level accounting solution proves to be more cost-effective and beneficial for the organization as a whole.

This will make it easier for the accountant or bookkeeper to manage the firm’s financial data and produce accurate reports. The Trump tax reform eliminated or decreased transportation fringe benefits and client entertainment deductions previously available to law firms. It is important for lawyers to keep track of all related costs throughout the year in order to take advantage of these tax deductions. For example,
If your law firm has multiple partners, you may want to consider hiring a bookkeeper to help keep track of the finances.

  • Having a separate business account allows for greater control over the accounting of clients’ funds.
  • In fact, some bookkeeping tools integrate with your practice management tools, allowing you to easily track your clients, invoices, and more.
  • Gain a better understanding of your firm’s cash flow and ensure that every transaction is accurately recorded with proper supporting detail.
  • Cash accounting makes it easy to determine when a transaction has occurred (the money is either in the bank or out of the bank) and there’s no need to track receivables or payables.
  • My name is Brandy Derrick and I am the owner of Legal Ease Bookkeeping, LLC.