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When Should You Switch Your Law Firm Bookkeeper? Timing & Tips For Maximum Financial Efficiency 

Sometimes, it’s hard to know when is the right time to switch your law firm bookkeeper.

More than 50% of law firms face financial mismanagement due to bookkeeping blunders, as highlighted by Thomson Reuters.

This statistic shows how important a role a skilled law firm bookkeeper plays in the seamless operation and growth of your law firm. 

But not all bookkeepers are created equal. 

In this guide, we’ll explore 6 signs indicating it’s time to swith your law firm bookkeeper and how making the right move that can put your firm on the path toward profitability and efficiency.

When Should You Switch Your Law Firm Bookkeeper?

Below are 6 red flags of a bookkeeper that show it’s finally time to say “Bye Bye”:

1. Your firm has grown from 6 figured to 7 figures

Going from a six-figure to a seven-figure law firm is an achievement that speaks volumes about your dedication, hard work, and the trust your clients place in your legal expertise. 

But with great growth comes the need for a better approach to managing your finances, doesn’t it? This is where the role of your law firm bookkeeper comes under the spotlight.

Many law firm owners, perhaps driven by loyalty or comfort, continue to work with the same bookkeeper they had when their practice was in its beginning stages—generating between $50,000 to $200,000 in revenue. 

Back then, it was just you, an associate perhaps working part-time, and a virtual assistant. Scrutiny over financials wasn’t as demanding, right?

Fast forward to today, your law firm has grown, hitting that $1,000,000 or even $2,000,000 mark, and your team has grown to 7, 15, or even more members. 

So the bookkeeper who handled the finances of your smaller, six-figure firm may not have the requisite experience to manage the finances of a seven-figure law firm. The needs are totally different, and so should your law firm bookkeeper.

The oversight can be costly. Without specialized guidance, many law firms at this level begin to see a dip in their profitability. 

However, a seasoned law firm bookkeeper can alert you to significant shifts in your financials—like an increase in payroll due to your expanding team or increased office expenses. 

When your firm was smaller, keeping 70% of your profits might have been feasible. Now, despite your growth, you find yourself keeping a smaller slice of the pie if you stick with the same bookkeeper.

So, the first sign for switch your law firm bookkeeper is when you go from a 6-figure to a 7-figure law firm. 

2. You’re getting delays in responses

The legal world is fast-paced and timely access to financial information is a necessity.

However, a common problem that many law firm owners come across is a delay in responses from their bookkeepers. This can be a clear sign that it might be time to switch bookkeeper for your law firm.

Consider that your bookkeeper, once attentive and quick to reply, joins a networking group and suddenly acquires 10 new law firm clients. Their responsiveness shifts from same-day replies to a sluggish three-day wait. 

Worse yet, the responses you eventually receive aren’t even from the familiar voice you’ve grown to trust but rather from someone else in their firm—someone who doesn’t know your firm’s financial nuances like your original bookkeeper did. 

It’s like expecting a direct call back from your doctor but instead, getting a text from the receptionist days later. The personal touch and immediacy are lost.

As a law firm owner, having prompt and accurate financial information at your disposal is crucial for making informed decisions. Generally speaking, a 48-hour turnaround time for responses is reasonable. 

But anything beyond that, especially when responses are incomplete or, in the worst-case scenario, nonexistent, signals a problem. It reflects not just a lack of efficiency but also a potential disregard for the urgency and specificity your legal business requires.

So, when communication starts to lag, and getting the financial insights you need feels like pulling teeth, it’s a clear indicator that it might be time to switch your law firm bookkeeper

3. The bookkeeper is too busy for you

Have you ever felt like just another item on someone’s to-do list, rather than a priority? It can be especially frustrating when it comes to the person managing your firm’s finances. 

When your law firm bookkeeper seems too busy for you, whether due to personal issues or simply taking on more clients than they can manage, it’s a signal that it might be time for a change in your legal bookkeeping services.

This scenario is more common than you might think and is a normal part of the ebb and flow of business growth. 

However, loyalty, while commendable, can sometimes tether us to services that no longer meet our evolving needs. Remember, the bookkeeper who was integral to your firm’s early days may not be the right fit as your needs expand and diversify.

It’s crucial to recognize that staying with a bookkeeper who lacks the time to dedicate to your firm can affect your financial growth and, ultimately, the profitability of your law firm. 

It’s understandable; the sense of loyalty to someone who has been with you through thick and thin is strong. Yet, this very loyalty could be holding you back, doesn’t it?

The truth is that your law firm’s financial health should always be a top priority. If your current bookkeeper for law firm is too swamped to give you the attention and service your growing firm deserves, it might be time to look for someone who can. 

4. Short temperament 

Running a law firm is extremely challenging, and the last thing you need is for your bookkeeper to lose their cool. 

It’s an unfortunate scenario, but not uncommon: you might find yourself on the receiving end of a sharp tone, a judgmental comment about your spending, or even outright anger from your bookkeeper. 

Money is indeed a sensitive topic, but when discussions around it turn sour, it can leave a bitter taste.

Managing finances is crucial, but so is maintaining a professional and supportive relationship with your law firm bookkeeping person. 

You’ve worked hard to build your practice and deserve to make financial decisions that align with your goals and happiness—without undue judgment. 

If your bookkeeper’s response to inquiries or decisions is less “Here’s what I advise based on the numbers” and more “I can’t believe you spent that,” it’s not just a breakdown in communication, it’s a breach of professionalism.

Here are some signs of a short-tempered bookkeeper:

  • Highly Inappropriate: Financial advisors, including bookkeepers, should provide data-driven insights, not personal opinions on your lifestyle or business decisions.
  • Highly Unprofessional: A short temper or judgmental comments have no place in a professional setting, especially one as critical as managing the finances of a law firm.
  • Time for a Change: If you’re encountering a judgmental or irritable demeanor from your bookkeeper, it may be time to switch to a new bookkeeper for law firm—one who respects your autonomy and supports your decisions with facts, not judgments.

Remember, your relationship with your bookkeeper should be based on mutual respect and professionalism.

5. You’re late on your taxes

Let’s talk about a universal truth we all know too well: tax deadlines. These dates are etched in stone, unchanged year after year—well, except maybe that one time during the pandemic, but that’s beside the point.

For anyone involved in financial management, be it a CFO, accountant, or bookkeeper for law firms, these dates are non-negotiable and marked in red on their calendars. 

So, when your law firm bookkeeper starts slipping up, causing you to be late on your taxes, it’s a big red flag.

Consider this scenario: Initially, your bookkeeper is on the ball, delivering your monthly books with commendable punctuality. But then, the delays start creeping in. 

What was once a reliable schedule, with books delivered by the 10th of each month, gradually slides into inconsistency. Suddenly, it’s mid-April, and despite reaching out to your bookkeeper as early as March 1st, you’re met with nothing but empty assurances. “We’ll get them to you,” they say, but deep down, you sense the disappointment.

Now, it’s tax filing time, and you’re stuck. Without the necessary financials, your accountant can’t file your taxes, forcing you into the undesirable position of filing for an extension, along with shouldering any additional fees and penalties. 

This is a critical oversight in your bookkeeping for law firms: a bookkeeper should always provide your books in a timely manner, ideally before the 15th of each month. 

This remains true even if there are pending transactions requiring clarification. At least with the preliminary books in hand, you have a foundation to work from, rather than groping in the dark.

If not, you know what to do. 45% of firms have reported improved cash flow after switching bookkeepers. Now, that’s some stat!

6. Beginning of the year, or end of your tax season

Deciding on the perfect timing to make significant changes can be challenging, especially when it involves pivotal operational aspects like your legal bookkeeping. 

If you’ve experienced any of the previously mentioned scenarios, the need for a new law firm bookkeeper becomes immediate. 

But, if you’re pondering over the best time of year to make this switch, let’s understand why the beginning of the year or the close of your tax season might be your golden window.

The onset of a new year marks a fresh start not just personally but professionally too. January, with its promise of new beginnings, is an ideal time to reassess your legal bookkeeping needs. 

Why? Because your bookkeeper has just wrapped up your accounts for the previous year. If you’ve found yourself grappling with dissatisfaction over their service, feeling underserved or frustrated by the lack of communication and support, this is the moment for change. 

Similarly, the end of your tax season presents another opportunity for evaluation. Once you have your complete fiscal records in hand—usually by April—you gain insight into how well your current bookkeeper is supporting your firm’s financial goals. 

So what to look for in a bookkeeper? Seek a professional who doesn’t just send over a profit and loss statement as their sole communication. You deserve a bookkeeper who engages with you, ready to discuss and dissect your financials, offering insights and forecasts that align with your firm’s objectives.

Conclusion 

The decision to change your law firm bookkeeper might seem daunting, especially when considering the intimate understanding they have of your firm’s finances. 

Yet, embracing a change is vital when your current setup falls short of expectations, be it in terms of responsiveness, accuracy, or strategic financial guidance.

If your fiscal year has felt more like a trial than a triumph, perhaps it’s time to consider a bookkeeper who brings more to the table.

You want a bookkeeping partner who is as invested in your firm’s success as you are, right? Someone proactive, engaged, and skilled to help you drive profitability for your firm. 

If so, we invite you to reach out and explore how our services can align with your ambitions.

Click here to schedule a free consultation with us. Or use the calendar below.