Why general purpose business accounting software fails lawyers?

Trust Accounting

If you’re a lawyer looking for the right software to manage your firm’s legal accounting, the first place you may turn could be general purpose business accounting software. It would seem to make sense, but it won’t take you long to realize that legal accounting calls for a system that is tailored to fit the specific needs of a law firm.

There are a number of things general accounting software allows you to do, that simply won’t fly when it comes to legal accounting. For example:

  • Client advances (a.k.a. retainers or unearned income) can be posted to any general ledger account such as “fee income”
  • Client costs and trust disbursements can be posted to any chart of account- even office supplies

It’s no wonder that lawyers frequently get embroiled in such accounting accidents that turns into a catastrophe.

Compliant Legal Accounting Software

Compliance is key when it comes to legal accounting. General purpose business accounting software doesn’t take the same regulations into consideration that law firms are subject to. This is no small matter. When considering areas like trust accounting-penalties can be as severe as disbarment. Your trust accounting software needs to support zero tolerance for accounting errors.

Data Accuracy Calls For System Integration

A law firm’s accounting needs can only be efficiently met when there is constant communication between the billing and accounting systems. If the two systems’ data does not sync up, costly legal accounting errors are undoubtedly on the horizon. General purpose business accounting software would require your organization to enter information multiple times in multiple systems, increasing your opportunity for error. 90% of small law firms surveyed noted that synchronization between practice management software and accounting as their main concern. This is why legal accounting software that integrates practice management and billing systems into one solution is far more effective than other business accounting solutions.

Read more about Law Practice Management Software.

Consequences & Customization

As is the case whenever you try to fit a square peg into a round hole, trying to utilize generic accounting software to do a specialized function like legal accounting will only bring consequences and a need for costly customizations. Customizing a generic business accounting solution to fit the needs of a law firm would cost your firm time, money, and resources. Implementing a system that brings both practice management and legal billing software together will simplify your firm’s accounting and eliminate any data synchronization concerns.

Lawyers Aren’t Accountants & Accountants Aren’t Lawyers

Legal accounting can create a popsicle headache for all parties involved. General accountants aren’t familiar with the unique challenges and regulations a law firm faces. Lawyers aren’t accountants and shouldn’t have to be. General purpose business accounting software was made to simplify general bookkeeping not legal accounting. Make sure your firm takes the unique accounting needs of a law firm into consideration when selecting a legal accounting software solution.


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