2.9 The Bookkeeper's Role
There is a prevalent notion among practitioners that the bookkeeper's role is akin to that of a data entry person with a basic understanding of bookkeeping. However, the person that you employ will not only be responsible for the day-to-day posting of transactions for your trust and general accounts, but he or she is usually delegated the more important role of conducting month-end procedures that include:
- the preparation of the monthly trust bank reconciliations
- billing and accounts receivable work
- payment of client disbursements and office accounts
- preparation of periodic financial statements and
- monitoring cash flow
Some lawyers have only a vague notion of what an effective bookkeeper can do for their business and may hire a friend or relative for this job without careful deliberation or a review of their qualifications. All too often, the Law Society becomes involved in a practice where the bookkeeper has not performed his or her duties due to improper supervision by the lawyer. As many lawyers have experienced, changing bookkeepers can be expensive, time-consuming, and may even lead to discipline if the books and records are not kept in accordance with the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta.
It is the lawyer's personal responsibility for ensuring the books and records are kept in accordance with the Rules, whether or not any duties are delegated to a bookkeeper. Therefore, it is incumbent upon every practicing lawyer to be familiar with, and have a working knowledge of, Division 2 of Part 5 of the Rules.