Law Firm Accounting: The Ultimate Guide

law firm bookkeeping

The trust ledger is similar to a checkbook register and should include every trust transaction for every client. This trust ledger must be reconciled to the bank statement for the trust funds account. There may be some trust transactions in the ledger at the end of the period, which will appear as outstanding items on your reconciliation. This is fine but look closely at the outstanding items to ensure they aren’t an incorrect ledger entry.

law firm bookkeeping

First, you’ll deposit all retainer checks and similar money that belongs to a client in an IOLTA account. Each of these records should be kept for a specific time—some for 10 years, some for as few as three. 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. Be sure to keep track of all payments made, both to third parties and internally, in order to stay on top of your finances. For example, an accountant might examine your firm’s profitability and make recommendations to improve your bottom line.

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This could mean taking on bookkeeping tasks in-house or hiring a professional bookkeeper with experience working with law firms. Why has accounting for law firms traditionally been such a hassle? It involves a ton of inefficient, manual work—involving a lot of spreadsheets, paper invoices, inputting data entry, and struggles with collections. By establishing—and following—best practices for accounting for law firms like the examples below, you’ll be better able to help your firm stay on track.

If you’re trending behind, it is better to know sooner rather than later so you can react accordingly. Many small firms find that outsourcing their bookkeeping functions is a great first step in delegating work off the owner’s plate. With all the options available, we know it’s difficult to choose which software is the best choice for your firm.

Always keep your trust and business accounts separate

These errors can have disastrous consequences, both in terms of business operations and taxes. To ensure accuracy and accuracy of financial records, it is important to follow standard accounting practices when managing the books for a law firm. Accountants and bookkeepers can provide advice on best practices to prevent costly mistakes while keeping accurate financial records.

Once you’ve chosen an accountant to work with, use these questions to guide your initial conversation. A CPA can also help you make long-term, big picture budgeting decisions about the future of your business. If you’re serious about growing your business, you need to team up with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) early on.

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Accountants must ensure that bookkeeping for law firms is done properly in order to provide reliable financial data. These errors can lead to wasted time and complications for a law firm’s law firm bookkeeping bookkeeping process. IOLTA (Integrated Online Taxation and Accounting) is a software platform that helps law firms manage their finances and keep records of their transactions.