With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility – Uncle Ben
An Attorney Superpower
Almost every study shows that the legal industry has been slow to embrace technology. That is understandable. Traditional methods have been working for over a century, why change? Even in legal research, where technology flourishes, there are still landmines waiting for lawyers who rely on summaries and flags rather than reading the law. That being said, you may be surprised by the claim that Abacus Balance is a service, based on technology, that is an attorney superpower, at least in the area of accounting.1
After our office administrator passed the bar exam and started practicing, he continued doing the office administration. In addition to his new law practice, he owned a small business on the side. At the same time he was juggling his personal life as a husband and father. That is a heavy load for anyone. At some point, I reached out to a local accounting firm to discuss the possibility of outsourcing some of the work. The outsourcing would have included reconciliation of trust accounts. We met with a respected accounting firm and detailed our expectations and provided them with a copy of several best practice recommendations.
We received a proposal back from the accounting firm. The majority opinion was that the accounting services were too expensive – especially in light of the fact that everything the accountants would be doing was already being done by our office administrator.
Don’t miss this. We weren’t voting on whether or not to reconcile our accounts. Client files were reconciled against the software. We believed that our office administrator was reconciling our accounting software against the bank statements. He wasn’t. The reports we relied on were false.
What we didn’t know then was that our new attorney office administrator was motivated to vote against outsourcing any accounting services. There was too much risk for him that the accountants might discover that he had been stealing millions of dollars.
Regardless, I felt like I was in the minority and I let it go. That was the wrong decision.
If only I could have sent out a distress signal and received some affordable help – that would have been the work of a superhero.
The Red Capes Are Coming
Today, that superhero can be found in a service offered by Abacus Data Systems. The service is Abacus Balance. Abacus Balance allows you to partner with legal accounting experts to balance your books and reconcile your trust account to ensure you’re in compliance with your professional rules. Some of the services include:
bank/credit card transaction recording
bank account reconciliation of loan and fixed assets GL accounts
standard financial reporting
How Much Should a Superpower Cost Anyway?
Superheroes usually don’t charge a fee. But then, Abacus Balance isn’t actual an superhero, it just offers a super power. And then, the cost of Abacus Balance is so low it’s almost like not charging a fee at all. The fee to handle three accounts (1 checking account, 1 trust account and 1 credit card account) is about 15% of what the accounting firm proposed to handle our accounts.
Even if you enjoy reconciling accounts (and several people have shared that they do), it might not make sense. If you can bill more for your time than it takes to reconcile, Abacus Balance might make sense.
Come to find out, it would have been way cheaper to hire an accounting firm to reconcile our accounts. In fact, a full time bookkeeper would have been less expensive than all of the costs that resulted.
I asked Romulo Perez, Sr. Business Development Officer with Abacus, how long would it have taken for Abacus Balance to have revealed improprieties in our accounts if Abacus Balance would have been available. The answer, two days after the end of the banking period. Two days. If you have questions about Abacus Balance, feel free to call me at (205)912-8248. You can also call Romulo Perez directly at (858)529-0027.
- ©2016 Brandon L. Blankenship, Image Credit: NY Comic Con 2015 Supergirl Superman Richie S CC flickr 10OCT2015. ↩