“How did you learn Quickbooks[?]“

In the comments, Drew asked how to go about learning to use QuickBooks.

I learned to keep my own books with the help of a very patient accountant and copies of Bookkeeping for Dummies and Accounting for Dummies. Unless you already know what you are doing, the world of debits, credits, and double-entry accounting is a bit complicated. And although QuickBooks makes it a lot easier, you probably should get an accountant’s help to set up your books and get you started.

  • http://www.zakrockilaw.com Steve

    I agree. I also found a good video on Lynda.com that helped with the basics of QuickBooks. It will give you a good overview, but you are probably going to need assistance from your accountant.

  • http://adamlillylaw.com/ Adam Lilly

    I used the videos in the QB help center. When I’ve had other questions, I’ve gone to their help forums and found the answer. Both were surprisingly helpful.

  • http://www.centsablebookkeeping.com Laura Dion

    I learned how to use QuickBooks for law firms by listening and researching what is needed and, then, tested procedures in sample files that I created.

    There are a few specific challenges with law firm accounting:

    _Tracking advanced costs correctly when paid out of the Operating account
    _Billing for those advanced costs to the client
    _Tracking and billing for time, using as much or as little detail as required by the particular firm
    _Tracking and billing for miscellaneous costs (phone, fax, copies, etc) that are not directly billable to the client ( $ for $ )
    _And, most importantly, tracking and reporting the trust accounting to meet the requirements of the state/bar

    For the trust accounting, you need to be able to answer the following ‘tests’ -

    1) Does the trust bank account balance match the trust liability account balance?
    2) Do you have a report listing each client’s trust balance, the total of which equals the trust bank account balance?
    3) Do you have a detailed ledger, for each client, which shows the specifics of the ins and outs of the trust monies?

    All of the above can be accomplished using QuickBooks, but specific procedures (see below) need to be followed and reports need to be created to meet the required standards.

    Trust accounting in QuickBooks is a little tricky and needs to be tracked using specific procedures in order to get good reporting for the Funds Held in Trust (escrow) detail by client.

    Here is my general procedure for tracking trust accounts in QuickBooks -

    Deposit the retainer/settlement check into the Trust/Escrow bank account, using a Funds Held in Trust (Escrow) liability account with the client name in the name field. I do this directly in the Make Deposit form, but you can enter a sales receipt, using an item which points to the liability account.

    Then, write checks for any (non-law firm) disbursements of those funds, using the Funds Held in Trust (Escrow) account on the expense tab of that check – with the client name in the name field on that line. Or, if you want the detail of how those disbursements are made, create separate items, all pointing to that account, to indicate what that ‘paid out’ is for – Insurance, taxes, fees, etc.

    Then, if applicable, invoice the client. . .for the professional fees (time or flat fee billings) and any advanced costs (previously paid out of the operating account) as separate items. . .

    Then, cut a check from the Trust/Escrow bank account to the law firm, using the Funds Held in Trust (Escrow) account on the expense tab of that check – with the client name in the name field on that line.

    Then, ‘Receive payment’, using the client name, and attach that payment to the open invoice.

    Then, deposit the funds into the operating checking account, either directly from the payment, or via Undeposited Funds.

    I have created a group of memorized reports to show the client trust activity and balances to use when reconciling/reporting client balances and/or the bank statement.

    _I do not (usually) use items, invoices, or sales receipts for any activity directly involving the trust funds (although sometimes it is needed/useful, but needs to be setup and tracked specifically).

    These are two completely separate areas of your business and the transactions need to be recorded as such. . .so much so that some law firms track their trust accounting in a separate QuickBooks file (although I don’t see the need for that myself).

    Note: There is no way to automatically show the trust balance on an invoice. You can, however, create a custom field, or enter a line in the description field, to notate the remaining trust fund balance. The amount will have to be manually entered on each invoice. If you put the amount remaining in the memo field, it won’t print on the invoice, but will show up on statements and in the customer center.

  • Fred

    Or you could just use PCLaw – designed for lawyers and designed to properly handle all aspects of trust accounting.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      PC Law: designed for Windows 3.11.

  • http://Www.heatherdernmyers.com Heather

    There is a booklet that a lawyer from Florida wrote that was a godsend for me in using quick books. If you search Quick Books For Lawyers you should find it. She also offers consults.