Practical advice on growing your law firm, from Travelers and other expert suppliers to law firms. Watch this new site grow.

Key legal market trends. How to position and promote your law firm, practical partnership issues to take into account

How to approach winning new clients, making the most of existing relationships, encouraging referrals and generating new leads

How to approach creating a law firm website that works, from agreeing your objectives to making sure you get the results you want

Why lawyers need to know about social media, how to make the most of the opportunities and how to avoid potential pitfalls

PR

How to use PR to build your firm’s reputation: working with the media and getting involved with the communities that matter to you 

How traditional and online advertising can work for your law firm, and how to create cost-effective advertising that delivers results

This is a new section and only covers GDPR at the moment. More articles will follow.

This is a new section with seven articles at the moment. (Topics like finance and HR will have their own sections once we publish more articles on them.)

Choosing a firm of accountants

Andy HarrisAndy Harris, associate partner in the legal sector team at accountants Hazlewoods, outlines ten key areas you should think about when choosing a firm of accountants for your law firm

  1. Sector expertise. Your accountants need to understand the regulatory environment in which the law firm operates – the SRA Accounts Rules, management of client funds and so on. More generally, you want an accountant with real specialism in the sector, who understands the legal market and the issues that face your firm.
  2. Financial management. While accounting and compliance are essential, support with financial management can be equally valuable. For example, your accountant might help create systems that help control and reduce lock-up, and be able to benchmark your performance.
  3. Strategic planning. An experienced accountant can help the firm anticipate and deal with strategic issues. For example, choosing the right corporate structure, succession planning (including the financial impact of partner retirements), or modelling the impact of new pricing structures.
  4. Tax advice. It generally makes sense for your accountants to take a holistic view of tax planning, including both the firm and individual partners’ personal tax positions. This may include effective use of pensions, structuring partnership exits, inheritance tax planning, and so on.
  5. Specific requirements. You may need support in particular areas such as starting a new firm, raising funding, expanding internationally, or working towards a merger or sale.
  6. Clients. You may want your accountants to provide additional support for complex client matters (eg client tax and trust planning, litigation support). You may also want to assess any further potential for referrals and collaboration.
  7. Location and size. Although most day-to-day interactions can be handled online or remotely, working with a nearby firm makes it easier to meet face-to-face. A relatively small local firm may also value your business more highly and charge less than a national firm. Bear in mind that your accountants need to be a registered auditor to carry out the SRA Accounts Rules audit work, as not all accountants are nowadays.
  8. Recommendations. Ask any contacts who have worked with the accountants what they used them for, what the accountants were like to deal with and how satisfied your contacts have been with the quality of the advice they were given.
  9. Personal relationships. Check which individuals at the accountants you will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Arrange to meet them in advance to get a feeling for what they would be like to work with.
  10. Costs. Get clear guidance on billing rates, expenses and payment terms. Investigate any flat rate services offered and what these do and do not cover.

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