Otherwise – garbage in, garbage out
If you are a law firm looking for new legal financial software, you also need to take into consideration that your data will need to migrate to the new law firm software. Since you’re starting anew, this is the best time for a clean setup and guide into best practices.
If you’re a lawyer with a background in accounting, that’s great! But most of you have not gone to school for this. Bookkeepers and accountants have special training to make this transition as tidy and efficient as possible. They are well worth the time and energy to engage to help you with the transition to the new software.
So: what kind of information are you looking for with these legal accounting professionals? Following are specific areas of expertise to home in on:
Chart of Accounts
When you create workflows with your new law firm software, you have the opportunity to set it up right. Don’t blow this chance. Find someone who has expertise in law firm accounting software so that you can comply with your state bar rules. Legal considerations for a chart of accounts include:
- Money held in trust.
- Reimbursable expenses from clients — Both hard and soft costs
- General invoicing: Where is income booked?
- Expected financial/legal reports
Establishment of best practices for law firm invoicing
When you consider the lifecycle of your client, you have many points of contact:
- trust receipts
- payments from trust
You want to make sure you know how to manage all of these touch points in your new law firm software and that there is a clear procedure for each. Additional accounting and bookkeeping tasks will include payroll – don’t leave this out of the process. If you integrate all of your data, you’ll be able to create reports that can show you how to improve to profit and productivity.
Of course, you’ll still need services for ongoing monthly account reconciliation and trust reconciliation. But if you have it set up by a pro, you may be able to use someone within your office.
Keep in mind that if you are delivering hundreds of legal invoices per month, you may need special assistance to get those out in a timely manner. Ask the accounting professional how she would handle that.
- Assistance in setting up QuickBooks Online Advanced, specific to your needs as a law firm. This includes wiring in your bank accounts and receiving guidance on apps that can extend the functionality of QuickBooks — like LeanLaw does for timekeeping, invoicing, trust accounting and reporting. Other apps might track expenses, receipts or assist with reminders or collections.
- Outsourced AR/Invoicing as needed. Of course, if you have LEDES requirements, your accounting pro should know about that as well.
If you need help finding an accounting professional for your law firm, consider the independent professionals in our LeanLaw Accounting Pros (LAP) program. Our LAPs are fluent in QuickBooks, LeanLaw and law firms – they are your best bet for a successful transition into best practices for accounting.