How To MANAGE a Small Law Firm - Bookkeeping Dashboard

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Practice Management Systems for Personal Injury Firms

Plaintiff personal injury firms have processes and workflows that are not well suited to the practice systems designed for hourly time and billing firms. 

We are working with or watching the below practice management systems dedicated to personal injury firms.

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Colorado IOLTA Trust Account Resources

Colorado IOLTA account requirements are detailed in Rule 1.15 of The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct.

Colorado Lawyer Trust Account Foundation COLFAT

 

Administrative or firm funds are allowed in Colorado IOLTA accounts.

  • Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15 Safekeeping Property (g) “A lawyer may deposit funds reasonably sufficient to pay anticipated service charges or other fees for maintenance or operation of such account into trust accounts. Such funds shall be clearly identified in the lawyer’s records of the account.”
  • As a starting point, we suggest keeping at least $100 of firm funds even in low volume IOLTA accounts to cover bounced check fees.
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California IOLTA Trust Account Resources

We use the below resources when managing California IOLTA accounts.

California IOLTA account requirements are regulated by Rule 4-100 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

We also use the Handbook on Client Trust Accounting for California Attorneys.

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Arizona IOLTA Trust Account Resources

We use the below resources when managing Arizona IOLTA accounts.

 

Arizona State Bar – Law Office Management Assistance (LOMAP)

Website

State Bar of Arizona – Client Trust Accounting for Arizona Attorneys Manual

Under Arizona Supreme Court Rule 43 – Guidance on IOLTA Trust Accounting – PDF

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Keeping Firm Funds in IOLTA for Account Maintenance

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There’s an exception to the rule prohibiting law firms from depositing firm funds into the IOLTA trust account.

Example Scenario
-Client gives law firm $10,000 of advance funds.
-Check is deposited to IOLTA account.
-Two days later, firm receives notice the $10,000 check bounced. The bank deducts the $10,000 check from the IOLTA account along with a $20 service fee.

Who funds the $20 service fee? The client’s balance history is the $10,000 deposit less the $10,000 returned item for an ending balance of $0.

Options are:
1) Client’s IOLTA balance is negative. Clients cannot have negative IOLTA balances.
2) The $20 was taken from another client’s IOLTA funds…

The solution is to keep enough firm funds in the IOLTA account to cover bank charges. We suggest keeping at least $100 of firm funds in the IOLTA account and replenishing as needed.

Citations

Texas
A Lawyer’s Guide to Client Trust Accounts – State Bar of Texas – April 15, 2014...

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Connecticut IOLTA Trust Accounting Requirements

Connecticut IOLTA trust accounting rules are detailed in Connecticut Practice Book, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.15.

Section 1.15.J requires the following items

General Ledger J.1 – Chronological report of all deposits and withdrawals from the trust account with a running balance.

Client Ledger J.2 – Client level chronological report of all deposits and withdrawals with running balances.

Copies of bank statements, images of deposited items, and copies of cleared checks J.7

Section J.10 would include the triple reconciliation summary used to tie the ending bank statement balance to the general and client ledgers.  Aggregate deposit and withdrawal reports are also covered by this section.

These requirements are included in our Example IOLTA Trust Account Reconciliation and introduction video.

 

Connecticut Practice Book

(j) A lawyer who practices in this jurisdiction shall maintain current financial records as provided in this Rule and shall...

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Example IOLTA Trust Account Reconciliation

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Complete examples of IOLTA Trust account reconciliations are rare.  Our intro video provides a quick overview of a complete IOLTA Trust account reconciliation.  Use the button below to download a copy of the example reconciliation used in the video.

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Automated, Paperless Accounts Payable Process for Law Firms

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We help law firms pay vendor bills by automating their accounts payable process. This video provides an introduction to our processes and software tools.

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S Corps for Law Firms – Self-Employment Tax Savings

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S Corps Control Social Security and Medicare Taxes

When a law firm is taxed as an S Corp, the primary tax savings are achieved by controlling social security and medicare taxes.

Law firm owners must pay the social security and medicare taxes withheld from employee paychecks and they must pay the social security and medicare taxes matched by the employer.

For 2014, Social Security and Medicare taxes consist of:
6.20% Employee Portion for Social Security (6.2% of first $117,000)
6.20% Employer Portion for Social Security (6.2% of first $117,000)
1.45% Employee Portion for Medicare (1.45% of all net income)
1.45% Employer Portion for Medicare (1.45% of all net income)

15.3% Total

Schedule C and Partnership Self-Employment Tax

When a law firm is taxed as a sole proprietorship (Form 1040, Schedule C) or a partnership (Form 1065) all net income is subject to self-employment tax.

Example
Law firm taxed as sole proprietorship on Form 1040, Schedule C.
Law firm net income is $150,000.
...

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