Paper-Based Accounting Systems

Paper-based systems have largely given way to computerized accounting systems as manual bookkeeping is time intensive and can be prone to human error. However, if you have a very small firm and few transactions, you may find that the traditional bound accounting books or “one-write” systems are sufficient.

Note that if you are using a paper-based system and the amount of transactions you are recording increases or the paper-based system is causing accounting issues, the Law Society may require you to move to an approved software program.


Traditional Bound Accounting Books

These are the books that can be purchased at any stationery or office supply store. They are inexpensive and generally easy to keep—provided that the initial journals and accounts have been set up properly in the first place. It is VERY useful to engage an accountant or bookkeeper to set the accounts up, and you would be well advised to spend a little time with the accountant or bookkeeper to understand how this system works and how to make proper postings if you are not going to engage a bookkeeper. Users must be diligent in making the entries.


“One-Write” Systems

These are accounting systems that have been designed by people such as Safeguard™. They simplify the paper accounting process by providing a means whereby all entries are prepared simultaneously (usually by non-carbon copy paper). These systems ease the need to make double-entries by causing the entries to be made at the same time—hence the “one-write” system.


Benefits and Drawbacks of Paper-Based Systems


  • Inexpensive
  • Can be easy to use if familiar with their operation
  • May be suitable for low-volume practices


  • Requires some knowledge of accounting
  • Difficult to reconcile (as compared to a computerized system)
  • No benefit of ancillary systems (such as conflict checking, limitation systems, accounts receivable reminders, etc. that arise in a computerized system)
  • No automatic production of management reports (cash flow statements, billings by lawyer per period, disbursements on a file, etc.)
  • No linkage to other office systems (such as time-keeping systems)
  • Rarely used these days