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Law Society Compliance: More Than Just Dodging Fines

Updated: Apr 16

One might initially think that following the Law Society’s bookkeeping rules is just about avoiding fines and suspensions. However, these rules offer more benefits than just dodging penalties and punishment. They can significantly improve how a law firm operates. In this article, we'll explore some of the rules from the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) on Law Society Compliance and how they directly help a firm's business.


Focus on By-Law 9 

At the heart of LSO's sixteen By-Laws, By-Law 9 — "Financial Transactions and Records" — is crucial. This rule emphasizes the importance of keeping accurate financial records. Accurate financial records offer direct benefits to the firm beyond just compliance. Benefits include streamlined billing, improved revenue recognition, managing expenses, and optimizing cash flow within the firm.


Ensuring Trust Fund Integrity 

Part IV of By-Law 9 deals with trust account transactions. At a glance, some of these guidelines — like depositing trust monies immediately or never withdrawing more than what's available for a client — seem like common sense. However, mistakes can happen. Following these rules helps firms avoid them. Adherence to Trust fund integrity can also lead to enhanced client satisfaction, particularly at billing. Client satisfaction can lead to referrals and repeat clients.


Embracing Electronic Transfers 

The rise of electronic transfers highlights the importance of Paragraph 4 of By-Law 9. In today's world, traditional cheques are being replaced by e-transfers. Basic transaction records are not enough for these transfers. That's where the Electronic Trust Transfer Requisition (Form 9A) comes in. Without this, retracing source information for these transactions during audits would be a logistical nightmare. Additionally, this document is useful to your legal bookkeeper when completing your month-end reconciliations – it enables them to work more autonomously by having this information, which means less time posing questions about transactions to you and/or your staff and it gives the bookkeeper the ability to work more quickly.


Beyond By-Law 9 

Looking beyond By-Law 9, By-Law 8 stands out. This rule requires law firms to submit an annual report by March 31 each year. Completing this annual requirement is not just about checking this off a list. Beyond the fact that punctual, and accurate filing protects the firm from potential administrative suspensions, this mandate offers firms an opportunity for a yearly health check as it pertains to their Trust accounts.


Enhancing Business Operations Through Compliance 

In summary, following the LSO bookkeeping rules goes beyond just meeting legal requirements. It significantly improves a law firm's operations with:


1.       Managing cash flow efficiently.

2.       Preparing for audits more easily.

3.       Making informed business decisions.

4.       Maintaining a good reputation and service quality, which helps attract and retain clients.

5.       Increasing profitability.

6.       Managing expenses better.

7.       Having up-to-date financial information for analysis.

8.       Improving overall efficiency.


Conclusion: The Bigger Picture for Law Firms

Instead of seeing compliance with LSO's bookkeeping rules as just a legal requirement, it's much more beneficial to see it as an essential component of a law firm's business. Clean and precise bookkeeping, as required by the Law Societies, gives a clear picture of how the firm is doing and helps in making smart business decisions. By following these rules, firms not only stay within the law, but also enhance their financial management, build strong client relationships, and set themselves up for long-term success. Ultimately, these rules are essential for positive growth and resilience, going beyond mere regulatory compliance. To put it another way, they are not just about avoiding negative consequences; they're about leading to positive outcomes.




Keith Hill Jr. is the Principal at Bookkeeping Matters Inc (BMI). For over a decade, Bookkeeping Matters has been fulfilling bookkeeping needs for lawyers throughout Ontario and other provinces. As a former Legal Accounting professor, Keith has also positioned BMI as a premier provider of online legal accounting training. Specializing in several practice management software, Keith and his team can be contacted at: / 1-800-893-2820 /



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