MSBA IOLTA Guide - QuickBooks Onilne

Maintaining Client Trust Accounts with QuickBooks Online Essentials (2017)

Mike Trittipo

Clients have to put a lot of trust in the legal system, and they see lawyers as representatives of that system. So ever since practicing law re-became a way to make a living around the 12th century, ever since lawyers began to take money for their work, the legal system has insisted that lawyers be able to account to their clients about how they used money their clients gave them.

In concept, that should be easy. To account is simply to say what happened. But it is much easier to do that if one has kept records as one went along. Contemporaneous maintenance bolsters trust in the accounts. That was a key reason why Minnesota chose in 1976 to specify what records have to be kept every month, and require lawyers to certify every year that they are in fact maintaining those books and records as required.

But even with the rules having specified for 40 years what records to keep, lawyers still sometimes find it a bit of a mystery how to do so. This guide shows an easy method using a popular online accounting program, so you can have at hand the records required.

This guide will first summarize the rules’ requirements; then give an overview of an accounting approach that meets them at a “see the forest” generalized level; then double back at a “see the trees” detail level to show you how to implement that approach in QuickBooks® Online Essentials (2017) from Intuit, Inc.

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