Bookkeeping for Solo and Small Law Firms

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how to do bookkeeping for law firm

Successful law firms know everything about their money, from where it came from to where it will go. If you don’t have a strong accounting practice handling your affairs, you might be surprised at all the expenses you incur and pay each month. To open a business bank account, you will need the necessary legal paperwork, such as the Articles of Incorporation and Employer Identification Number (EIN). You may also need to provide proof of address and identification documents. Once the account is open, it is important to manage it carefully by regularly reconciling accounts, tracking expenses, and paying bills on time.

Automate your trust accounting by using legal accounting software platforms with cloud capabilities. There are many different software options available to help with efficient legal bookkeeping. A good law firm accounting software should include features such as billing and invoicing, bookkeeping, reporting and analytics, and payroll. The software should also include a mileage tracker, the ability to offer online payments, timekeeping tools, and the ability for multiple users to access the tools.

Choose an accounting method

The goal of bookkeeping is to have an accurate picture of your current financial standing. For example, you might think you have plenty of money in the bank and buy a new computer before realizing law firm bookkeeping you forgot to record that check to the court reporter. A simple mistake could send your firm into the red for the month. Or, you might lose track of critical transactions that affect your taxes.

We’re on a mission to help every lawyer achieve financial independence. Best of all, as we like to do at the Biglaw Investor, we’ve negotiated a special deal for readers of the site. If you sign up using the links on this page, you’ll get 20% off your first six months of bookkeeping with Bench. I’ve been so happy with the experience that I’m on the annual plan and my guess is that after six months of working with them, you’ll be on the annual plan too. First, you’ll deposit all retainer checks and similar money that belongs to a client in an IOLTA account. There are many benefits to outsourcing your accounts to a professional company specializing in legal accounts.

Transform Your Practice

Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein. Before you commit, make sure you do the math to determine the impact a provider’s fees will have on your bottom line. The types of expenses you can deduct on your tax return will depend on the expenses you incur in the course of doing business. You should also keep any other documentary evidence that supports an item of income, a deduction, or credit shown on your tax return.

  • It’s called the “corporate veil,” and it protects business owners and their personal assets from legal action taken against the company.
  • Accept all credit cards and free bank transfers, right in the invoice.
  • Having people come in and help provide their expertise in accounting and bookkeeping will help you see that it is being taken care of accurately and ethically.
  • Each month, a team of professional bookkeepers with experience in legal accounting gathers your data for you and turns it into accurate financial statements.
  • If you need help getting set up, we will work with you to develop a budget for the initial set up based on our hourly rates, before we transition you to a monthly fixed fee.
  • Return of Partnership Income, and Schedule K-1, which shows each member’s share of the profit/loss for that tax year.

When it comes to key accounting concepts, it’s really about organization. Understand your staff’s expenses, track spending, and automatically approve expenses without paperwork. Achieve a clear insight around your firm’s working capital, financial projections, and requirements for future expansion.

Errors in data entry

However, this method does not recognize accounts receivable or accounts payable. Most law firms use cash basis accounting because it’s simple to maintain. The basis of good legal accounting always starts with a well-thought-out budget. A budget helps you set expectations regarding cash flow and expenses for the year, reducing the likelihood of missing a payment or bouncing a check. Your law firm will also be able to set revenue benchmarks, which will help you determine if you are meeting your goals or need to adjust your business plan.

  • Bringing in an expert will give you peace of mind knowing that your business will get tax seasons done right.
  • By following these tips and strategies, you can conquer the world of legal bookkeeping with Clio.
  • If you have employees, you’ll have to pay Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA).
  • It’s easier to spot opportunities and potential problems and take effective, appropriate action if you regularly read your law firm accounting reports.
  • Many lawyers have no idea how much money they are making or how the firm is doing.

With all the options available, we know it’s difficult to choose which software is the best choice for your firm. After all, you have to sift through the options alone, convince your partners to agree, and pray that it works as it should. Your bookkeeper, CPA, and the IRS all require you to keep documents proving your income, credits, and deductions. This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice.

We were in the middle of making a lot of plans, but the lack of data was holding us back. Eventually we realized it made sense to hire someone and not try to do this in house. What matters the most is that you have a strategy in your budget that revolves around your business and where you want it to go.

how to do bookkeeping for law firm

When it comes to tracking expenses, it’s important to keep all of your receipts organized. You can use a physical folder or an online system like Expensify. And a lack of professionalism can lead to losing your clients, referrals, and growth opportunities.

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