Accounting for Law Firms: A Guide Including Best Practices

rules and regulations

Small and upcoming law firms will find FreeAgent a great match as they work to thrive in the industry. Sage Accounting is most suitable for smaller law firms and sole proprietors. Instead, it is a straightforward program that can give law firms peace of mind that their operations are being managed and monitored reliably. To learn more about financial management and law firm growth, watch our podcast, where Sasha Berson and Ryan Kimler discuss increasing a law firm’s revenue by optimizing numbers. With the accrual method, on the other hand, you enter an expense or revenue the moment it is incurred or earned.

  • 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.
  • A critical part of the legal accounting process focuses on analyzing financial reports and KPIs to uncover critical insights and make informed business decisions.
  • Many lawyers do this to solve problems like inadequate cash flow to deal with unexpected expenses.
  • Committing to accounting for law firms will allow you to be better equipped to identify growth opportunities.
  • If law firms used a pure cash accounting system, their financial statements would be relatively straightforward and the tax liability would be easier to determine.

Additionally, cloud-based legal accounting software offers real-time insights into financials while eliminating the need for costly on-premise installations. When you contact us, the first thing we do is get to know all we can about you and your business so we can find better ways to manage your finances. But we can go beyond routine bookkeeping and payroll processing. We also offer assistance with mergers and acquisitions, litigation support, and estate planning.


ZipBooks is considered by many to be the best accounting software for smaller law firms. It includes standard features and is incredibly easy to navigate. On top of that, ZipBooks is more than reasonably affordable; it’s highly affordable compared to many options. Accounting software for law firms is vital for busy and growing offices. important to remember that a standard payment processor will keep a certain percentage of each transaction as a fee. Because of this, you run the risk of breaking certain trust accounting laws . For a CPA to work effectively, they will need you to provide accurate, up-to-date financial statements. Whether you’re good with numbers and spreadsheets or not, every lawyer needs to understand the basic role that bookkeeping plays in their business. You can’t, for example, pay for your firm’s operating expenses directly out of an IOLTA account.

Differentiating Income From Revenue

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. Bookkeeping tasks are ongoing and can be performed daily, weekly, or monthly.

Money comes in and leaves your firm, so it’s worth it to pay attention. Turn your receipts into data and deductibles with our expense reports that include IRS-accepted receipt images. You should hold on to these supporting documents for the specified time required by the IRS. You can even keep digital copies of receipts produced by apps and online services such as Shoeboxed where the receipts are scanned and saved in digital files. That way you can concentrate on those areas needing work to make the firm as efficient as possible.

Actively Manage Your Finances and Financial KPIs

Regardless of the size of your law firm, it’s essential to understand the best practices of accounting and bookkeeping to ensure that your business is on the right track. A minor accounting error could result in significant reputational damage, hindering future growth opportunities and client referrals. By having a CPA on board, law firms can get assistance with filing taxes and making sure they are compliant with all regulations. This can make the process smoother for new small businesses that may not be familiar with all of the tax requirements.

Business fundamentals attorneys need to run a firm – ABA Journal

Business fundamentals attorneys need to run a firm.

Posted: Tue, 07 Jun 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

MyCase three-way trust reconciliation tools enable you to stay in compliance with bar regulations. Accounting is a world of numbers, and, for law practices, it helps efficiently manage the money flowing in and out of business. Make sure to keep all of your records organized and in one place.

New Deductions for Businesses Under the New Tax Act–-Could Yours Qualify?

The quickbooks payroll method better matches taxable income with cash received and makes it easier to pay the tax liability. You can elect the cash method of accounting by using it on the first return. If you have already filed a tax return using the accrual method, you’ll need to file a request with the IRS to change to the cash method.


Many platforms can run in the background on your phone and start and stop trips automatically based on the movement of your phone. 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.

Mistakes to Avoid in Law Firm Accounting and Financial Management

An accountant who prepares financial statements can provide valuable insights into the firm’s overall financial health. And an accountant who specializes in tax planning and compliance can ensure that the firm is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. Professional accounting and bookkeeping services are expertise-driven and require specialized knowledge of compliance standards in order to ensure accurate record-keeping.

Inadequately tracking your billable hours and mismanaging your invoices can cause you to lose track of what money is owed, and what’s going out. Remember that your trust account is your client’s money, not yours. Never touch that money for business expenses, not even once.

One of the main things to look for in a bookkeeper is to find one who specializes in accounting for law firms. With FreshBooks accounting software you’ll know at-a-glance how long tasks really take. Just start a timer and get down to business — when you’re done, you’ll have an accurate time log ready to pop onto an invoice. And when your team uses FreshBooks accounting software, everyone’s productivity is in one clear place. Supporting Strategies offers a range of outsourced bookkeeping and controller services that will transform the financial management of your law firm.

The Solution to Lawyers’ IOLTA Problems Is Training, Not … –

The Solution to Lawyers’ IOLTA Problems Is Training, Not ….

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If for any reason you make a mistake , make sure to track it in your books. Trust accounting management features with the general accounting features of online accounting software programs like QuickBooks Online and Xero. This gives you the best of both worlds while making your law firm’s comprehensive accounting situation easier to manage. Effective accounting for law firms is critical to your firm’s success. To ensure your firm’s financial statements are accurate, complete, and up-to-date, you need to use sound bookkeeping for attorneys.

  • Cash accounting recognizes revenues when cash is received, as well as expenses when paid.
  • The Trump tax reform eliminated or decreased transportation fringe benefits and client entertainment deductions previously available to law firms.
  • Ask around to see if other attorneys have a recommendation, or ask your State Bar for referrals.

Join over 1 million businesses scanning receipts, creating expense reports, and reclaiming multiple hours every week—with Shoeboxed. Join over 1 million businesses scanning & organizing receipts, creating expense reports and more—with Shoeboxed. Never withdraw any fee from an IOLTA account before it is earned.


Create digital invoices, have instant access to your firm’s cash flow in real time, and reconcile accounts instantly. It will save you a lot of time and money, not to mention, frustration. Every law firm must remain compliant with certain regulations.

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