5 Clichés about Attorney Bookkeeping You Should Avoid
September 5, 2016
Clichés are supposedly phrases that have be overused and should be avoided. However, we wouldn’t use clichés in everyday language if they were always a bad thing. Sometimes clichés can provide meaning to something when you cannot find the exact words to describe a situation. Even though the actual words are perfectly fine to use, there are some that should be avoided. Here are five clichés that should be avoided in your attorney bookkeeping:
- “Airing dirty laundry,” which means talking about private matters or secrets in public.
As an attorney, you are used to not being able to discuss things with other people because your conversations with your clients are privileged. You also need a bookkeeper who doesn’t talk about financial matters with anyone else. This means when an employee’s wages are garnished for child support, they don’t tell anyone. Or when your practice has a setback, they don’t go to happy hour and share the bad news with all their friends. Make sure your bookkeeper is someone you can trust to keep your financial information secret.
- “Like a bull in a china shop,” which means someone that will upset or break many things.
You may have someone entering financial information into your bookkeeping software who doesn’t know what they are doing and is causing problems. Maybe your bookkeeper doesn’t understand sales and use tax, or know that you are required to pay it on things you use in your state regardless if you were charged sales tax for it. I have seen businesses get audited and owe thousands of dollars in back use tax. Another situation that may occur is your bookkeeper doesn’t know how to do a journal entry properly but they know you want a report to look a certain way so they make that report look right and everything seems fine, until you get to the end of the year and your accountant is trying to file your income taxes. Then you have to pay them to go back and fix up a year’s worth of messes that were left behind.
- “Take the easy way out,” which means to avoid difficult situations or hard work.
The easy way is to ignore your bookkeeping. If you aren’t entering your receipts or looking at financial statements, then you can’t know the truth…that maybe your practice isn’t doing as well as you thought. It is much easier to check your bank balance, and as long as you have money in the bank, everything should be fine. The problem happens when it comes to tax time, when you have to spend hours and hours trying to figure out what you did 11 months ago. It ends up not being easier and costing you way more money in getting your stuff to your accountant last-minute or in having your accountant do your bookkeeping for you.
- “Wear many hats,” which means performing many different tasks.
As the owner of your solo practice or small law firm, you have to wear many hats. You are a marketer, the HR manager, a practicing attorney, and more. Make sure that whoever is doing your bookkeeping is only doing bookkeeping. I am not saying you should hire a full-time employee to do your bookkeeping, but rather get someone who is virtual or part-time to do it. You don’t want to have someone who is also your secretary or paralegal doing your bookkeeping because they cannot become an expert at everything, which means some areas will be done wrong. Likely that will be your bookkeeping, because people like to do things they know and are good at. Bookkeeping, which is unfamiliar to them, will be put at the bottom of the stack.
- “Banging your head against a brick wall,” which means being frustrated.
We have all done something that was out of our area of expertise. Maybe someone asked you to take on a case that you have no experience in. You spend hours researching and reading so that you can be up to speed. You really don’t mind doing it because you love the law. However, when it is something else, something that feels torturous, like your bookkeeping, you may feel frustrated. You may think that you want to quit your law practice and go work for someone else because it is easier. It doesn’t have to be this way! Your financial statements can become a joy in your life (ok, maybe not a joy, but at least something you don’t dread). Click here to schedule a free 30-minute consultation so we can figure out how I can help relieve your frustrations.