Top Law Firm Accounting Tips

Mar 6, 2024
Author: Simon Bladen
Simon is one of the firm's Audit Partners. Simon is responsible for looking after the firm’s legal, charitable and not-for-profit clients.
law firm accounting

Accounting is a fundamental pillar of measuring a successful law firm. Law firms, have unique financial considerations that require careful attention to ensure compliance with regulations and business performance. From managing client funds to handling operational expenses, implementing the best accounting practices is essential for helping maintain integrity, transparency and financial stability. In this article, we look into some of the key strategies that law firms can adopt to help streamline their accounting processes.


Separate Client Accounts

One of the foundation principles in law firm accounting is the segregation of client funds from the firm’s operational finances (business bank accounts). Law firms often handle large sums of money on behalf of their clients, including fees, disbursements, and settlements. Establishing dedicated client bank accounts ensures that these funds are kept separate from the firm’s funds, thus safeguarding against misuse or misappropriation.

Moreover, maintaining clear records of client transactions is essential for compliance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Accounts Rules. These rules dictate strict guidelines for handling client money, including requirements for record-keeping, reconciliations and regular reporting.


Adherence to SRA guidelines

Law firms in the UK must adhere to the stringent guidelines set by the SRA. A strong understanding of the SRA Accounts Rules is imperative for ensuring compliance and avoiding penalties or disciplinary action. Regular updates and training on regulatory changes can help law firms stay abreast of evolving requirements and maintain adherence to best practice.

Solicitor accounting


Accrual Accounting for Revenue Recognition

Accurate revenue recognition is vital for gauging the financial health of a law firm. While cash accounting may seem straightforward, accrual accounting provides a more accurate depiction of a firm’s financial performance by recognising revenue when it is earned, rather than when it is received. This method aligns revenue recognition with the delivery of legal services, providing a comprehensive view of the firm’s profitability.


Efficient Time and Expense Tracking

Effective time and expense tracking are essential for billing accuracy and maximising billing opportunities. Utilising dedicated software solutions can streamline the process, allowing law firms to record billable hours, track expenses and generate invoices efficiently. Automation can significantly reduce the administrative burden associated with manual timekeeping, enabling law firms to focus their time and energy on delivering exceptional legal services.


Budgeting and Financial Planning

Implementing robust budgeting and financial planning processes can help law firms manage cash flow effectively and make informed business decisions. By setting realistic financial goals, monitoring expenses, financial transactions and forecasting revenue, law firms can proactively identify areas for improvement and allocate resources strategically to support growth and sustainability across different departments. Implementing accounting software into your law firm can help you achieve this more effectively and efficiently.


Regular Financial Reviews

Regular financial reviews are essential for assessing the firm’s performance, identifying potential issues and implementing corrective measures promptly. Law firms should conduct periodic reviews of financial statements, cash flow projections and key performance indicators to ensure that the firm remains on track to meet its objectives. These reviews also provide valuable insights for optimising operational efficiency and maximising profitability.


Engage Professional Accountants

While law firms possess expertise in the legal domain, seeking assistance from professional accountants can offer valuable support in managing complex financial matters. Experienced accountants with knowledge of the legal sector can provide tailored advice on tax planning, financial reporting and compliance, enabling law firms to navigate regulatory requirements and achieve their financial goals with confidence.



In conclusion, mastering good accounting practices is essential for law firms in the UK to maintain regulatory compliance, foster trust with clients, and measure/quantify business success. By implementing robust accounting processes, separating client funds, adhering to regulatory guidelines and leveraging technology and professional expertise, law firms can effectively manage their finances and position their practices for long-term growth and prosperity.


How can we help?

Hawsons is one of the few accountancy practices with a dedicated team of solicitor accountants specialising in the needs of solicitors and legal professionals.

We act for a large number of law firms across all three of our offices and offer a wide range of services which are tailored to meet their individual needs. Our legal client base consists of a multitude of firms of varying structure and size, from sole traders to limited companies and LLPs with corporate members.

Our understanding of the unique issues that many in the sector are facing, combined with our technical experience, allows our solicitor specialists to provide you with proactive, commercial and informed accountancy and tax advice.

More from our legal sector experts

You can find all of our latest legal articles here.

If you are looking for advice in a particular area, please get in touch with your usual Hawsons contact.

Alternatively, we offer all new clients a free initial meeting to have a discussion about their own personal circumstances – find out more or book your free initial meeting here. We have offices in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton.

Free initial meeting

Simon Bladen


Related content