Working with a Bookkeeper

You will probably have to hire a good bookkeeper. Your job as owner of your business, and a practicing lawyer, is to be familiar with the bookkeeping requirements of your practice as set out in Part 15 of the Rules, and to hire and supervise competent staff to meet those requirements.

 

The Bookkeeper’s Role

There is a prevalent notion among practitioners that the bookkeeper’s role is akin to that of a data entry person with a basic understanding of bookkeeping. However, the person that you employ will not only be responsible for the day-to-day posting of transactions for your trust and general accounts, but he/she is usually delegated the more important role of conducting month end procedures that include the preparation of the monthly trust bank reconciliations, billing and accounts receivable work, payment of client disbursements and office accounts, preparation of periodic financial statements and monitoring cash flow for your business.

Some lawyers have only a vague notion of what the bookkeeper does for their business and may hire a friend or relative for this job without careful deliberation or a review of their qualifications. All too often, the Law Society becomes involved in a practice where the bookkeeper has not performed his/her duties due to improper supervision by the lawyer. As many lawyers have experienced, changing bookkeepers can be expensive, time-consuming, and may even lead to discipline action if the books and records are not kept in accordance with the Rules.

It is the lawyer’s personal responsibility for ensuring the books and records are kept in accordance with the Rules whether or not any duties are delegated to a bookkeeper. Therefore, it is incumbent upon every practicing lawyer to be familiar and have a working knowledge of Part 15 of the Rules.