Accounting Girl is a virtual CFO for law firms. For those of you who can’t quite imagine what that is, it’s essentially an outsourced accounting department. This department handles bookkeeping, budgeting, financial projections, payroll, sales taxes, and more. To be clear, it’s not like sending your books off to a separate company to periodically get your accounts in order. Accounting Girl partners with your firm and integrates into your practice to become another part of your office.
For Managed Accounting, the following are essential features, and you should therefore expect to see a check in every box in this section.
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Pricing for Accounting Girl is always specific to the individual lawyer or firm. However, for the most part, they charge a flat-fee to onboard, and then a percentage of revenue as your ongoing fee.
Accounting Girl works directly with your firm, using your practice management and accounting software to provide their services to you.
Yes. Accounting Girl provides fractional CFO services to your firm, including business and financial strategy and advice.
Yes. Since they work with the programs you already have, there is no need for them to technically "integrate" with your software.
Yes. Accounting Girl is very familiar with the needs of solo, small firm, and medium-sized lawyers, including three-way reconciliation.
Although they can make recommendations, as of this review, Accounting Girl does not handle law firm income tax filings.
Yes. Accounting Girl can manage your firm's day-to-day bookkeeping. They will connect with your accountign software, your practice management software, and your online bank account to appropriately manage your day-to-day transactions.
Yes. It is never too early to outsource your firm's bookkeeping. Accounting Girl helps solos, small firms, and medium-sized firms alike.
No. Accounting Girl does not require use of a separate app. They connect directly to your QuickBooks Online, your law practice management software, and your online bank account to manage your accounting.
For the most part, anyone who has enough business to justify hiring a bookkeeper should consider Accounting Girl. Although it is important to note, they aren’t bookkeepers. You would be getting a whole lot more.
Essentially, Accounting Girl is a virtual, part-time accounting department that interacts with your accounts daily. They refer to themselves as your “virtual CFO.” And, this virtual CFO can help you set up, plan, and run a profit-first law firm.
Keep in mind, however, that they are not tax accountants. That is not what they do. And it’s not how the relationship is set up. They can make recommendations for you in this department. But don’t expect a relationship where you send off your “Accountant’s Copy” once a month to reconcile your taxes.
Additionally, smaller attorneys who are just starting out, or larger firms who need a full-time accounting department, may not find Accounting Girl to be the right fit.
When you first contact Accounting Girl to assist with your finances, you’ll set up an initial meeting to review the scope of the relationship and the work. Depending on how much back-work needs to be done to assimilate your books, they will quote you a flat fee for onboarding. Then, as the relationship continues, they charge a percentage of revenue for their ongoing fee.
During the onboarding process, you’ll be migrated to QuickBooks online. Then, if necessary, your accounts will be rebuilt for you efficiently and appropriately. This allows your virtual CFO to access your accounts through the online portal, which obviates the need to send files over the internet or use any alternative programs to communicate. (So long as everyone uses responsible password management and 2FA, this should be reasonably secure). At all times, you can see what Accounting Girl is doing, and your books stay appropriately up-to-date.
Once this relationship starts, they’ll even dig into the accounting and billing in your Law Practice Management Software. Although experience indicates that they can likely work in any LPMS you use, they have specific knowledge of Clio, MyCase, Cosmolex, PracticePanther, and more. After all, this is what you would expect from an internal accounting department—a virtual CFO should be no different.
In addition to tracking your books and accounts, Accounting Girl can also help you with your financial planning, budgeting for the future, and tracking things like your KPIs. Here, you’ll benefit from their experience in planning for the future, which can include planning financially for upcoming hiring situations, office expansion, and even retirement.
Generally, the more hands-off an attorney is in this relationship, the more beneficial it is. Which feels weird to say. We, as lawyers, typically like to have our hands in every aspect of the business. But, occasionally—actually, more often than not—it’s better when we let experts handle what they do best.
By outsourcing your accounting department, you can hire for experience, rather than convenience, location, or something even less related to capability. Although Accounting Girl doesn’t solely work with attorneys, that business makes up the bulk of what they do. This means they’re well versed in lawyer trust accounting and the ethical obligations that go along. So, you can feel confident leaving your accounting in their hands.
However, your office will never be totally disengaged—that’s how lawyers lose their licenses. Even with your virtual CFO creating all of your client bills, your office (hopefully a managing attorney) will still be expected to review what Accounting Girl sends over, and push them out the door. Not only does that allow for you to maintain a certain degree of oversight, but you are also able to keep that direct relationship with your clients.
The stand-out difference between Accounting Girl and some other outsourced accounting is the three-way reconciliation they do. They will connect with your online bank account, your QuickBooks account, and your LPMS to make sure your financials are correct each month.
Importantly, as you would expect from any CFO, they aren’t just in your accounts at the beginning and the end of each month. Generally, someone from Accounting Girl connects with your accounts daily. This means that you don’t lose any time waiting for someone to get your books straight before you can run reports, confidently create bills, or run-down accounts receivable. But, in reality, you won’t have to do that either, that’s what your virtual CFO is for.