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Top 6 Reasons Lawyers Lose Financial Control

Updated: Apr 3

This article highlights critical accounting challenges that lead lawyers to lose financial control in law practices, emphasizing the importance of effective time tracking, managing receivables, invoicing promptly, using retainers wisely, selecting the right clients, and hiring professional bookkeeping services. Implementing these strategies can significantly improve a law firm's financial health and increase its bottom line

Table Content

Keeping Track of Time

It's unbelievable how much time you waste if you don't keep track of time. According to research compiled by Ann Guinn for her ABA blog, you're likely to miss 10% of your billable hours if you don't get your time in by the end of the day. You'll lose 25% if you don't turn it in the next day. You'll lose a total of 50% if you don't get it in by the end of the week.

If you don't keep track of your time in real-time, you're making up what you put on your timesheet. Your customers aren't idiots. They'll notice something's wrong, making it more likely that you won't get charged or that the bill will be disputed.

law bookkeeping

Receivables Aren't Being Controlled

Before they hire you, you won't be able to grab any trouble with the client. However, finding problems early will save you a lot of time and money. The longer it takes your client to pay you, the less likely you are to be charged. Maintain discipline and run an aging report or law firm bookkeeping on a daily basis. Be sure your law firm bookkeeping is updated in real time so you don't miss an issue by a month or more. Be sure that tracking down aging receivables is someone's responsibility. To be honest, it shouldn't be you, at least not at this point in the process, because you're super busy and may not be able to get to it (and your hourly rate is too high to be messing with routine collections calls).

Accounting for lawyers is very important. If you can integrate these best practices into your timekeeping and billing workflow, you can add thousands of dollars a month to your bottom line.


Invoicing is important in accounting for lawyers. Send the invoices at the end of the month, not three months or thirty days later. If you don't feel a sense of urgency with the invoices, neither will your clients. Often, you will forget how you spent your time and will most certainly err on the side of your clients. After that, since it's been too long, you'll need to explain the invoice to them. Time is money. Another point of contact with your client is invoicing: once they see your professionalism, they will rise to reach you on this front. You can use outsourcing like law firm bookkeeping services to do that. They have the qualifications to make it professional.

iolta account and difference

trust accounting



In accounting for lawyers, since the IOLTA rules for these accounts are complicated, often attorneys refuse to set up retainers.

You won't be chasing money if you take the time to set up retainer accounts for your clients; instead, you'll be moving money from the trust account to the operating account. Since you have access to the money, the cash flow will increase and you won't have to wait 90 days for payment. But, once again, accurate timekeeping and prompt invoicing are needed.

Making the Wrong Client Selection

You know who the bad clients are: not only the ones who waste your time but even those who don't pay on time or whose jobs you don't care for. You'll have plenty of cash flow so you can concentrate on the job you enjoy. Consider getting credit records for new clients and rejecting others that aren't creditworthy. You're not a banker; you're a judge. Allowing your clients to finance your time is a bad idea.

Not Hire a Professional Law Firm Bookkeeping Service

Lawyers can lose money if they do not hire an accountant to manage their paperwork. Attorneys are well suited by delegating this job to a specialist and focusing on what they know best: practicing law.

accounting for attorneys

Not only can the lawyer sleep well at night ensuring that this job is being done, but lawyers will also feel that they will be in the best shape to see how their company is doing as they let the accountant run the accounts, keeping them reconciled and up-to-date so they have real-time reports at their fingertips.


In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the critical financial challenges that can impact law firms, from inefficient time tracking and poor client selection to inadequate use of retainers and delayed invoicing. Offering practical solutions like strategic financial planning, the selection of profitable clients, and the adoption of professional bookkeeping services, the article aims to arm lawyers with the tools they need to avoid common pitfalls and secure their financial success.


If you, as a business owner, see that you cannot handle accounting on your own, consider hiring an accountancy service for contractors to help you with it.

Call Irvine Bookkeeping now for a Free Quote!

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