Working with a Bookkeeper

You will probably have to hire a good bookkeeper3. Here are a few tips for the hiring interview:

  1. Ask if the candidate has worked with a lawyer before. If so, call the lawyer and ask about the bookkeeper's abilities. Trust accounting for lawyers can be more complex than accounting for many businesses. Experience is not everything, but it counts for a lot.
  2. Before the interview, determine how much assistance you need from the bookkeeper. If you have a busy practice with many trust transactions, you will probably need someone who is available more than once a month as Trust transactions should be recorded within seven days.
  3. The following questions will test whether the candidate has had experience working with a lawyer:
  • Do lawyers charge GST? (The candidate should know that GST is chargeable.) (See the modules on GST)
  • How often must a lawyer's accounting records be reconciled? (They must be reconciled at least once a month)
  • What is the difference between a pooled and a separate trust account?
  • What is the correct procedure if a shortage is discovered in a trust account? (You must immediately replace the shortage and refer to Rule 3-74¬†for further requirements.)
  • Do you know where to find the latest trust accounting rules online? (Look at the Law Society of British Columbia website.)
  • What familiarity do you have with lawyer accounting software packages such as ESILAW or PCLAW?4

3 See Appendix E for an article to assist in choosing your bookkeeper.

4 See Trust Accounting and Case Management Technology for more on these packages.