Watkins Law Firm removes the headache of trust accounting with TrustBooks

For more than 30 years, Michael Watkins has practiced law in the military, public, and private sector, serving as a Claims Officer, Defense Attorney, Military Judge, City Attorney, and as an Assistant Prosecutor. During these decades of experience, he has experienced first-hand the radical evolution of technology used by lawyers.

 

Like most lawyers, Michael not only practices law but is also required by law to “keep the books.” As he reminisced, “For many years when it came to trust accounting, we used the 3-part one write manual system with actual pen, paper, and folders.” For Watkins Law Firm and many other law firms at the time, that was how trust accounting was done. According to Michael, it wasn’t that complicated, it was just tedious.

Michael Watkins

My wife is the office manager and accountant for the law firm. The last few days of every month, when we balance the trust accounts, our relationship isn’t the best. Trying to fix discrepancies by chasing down every last transaction added unnecessary stress to our lives.

Michael Watkins
Watkins Law Firm

Trust Accounting With Technology

In 1999, to stay up with the times, Watkins Law Firm adopted QuickBooks for their trust accounting. Michael immediately noticed a difference, "QuickBooks added hours of complexity to our trust accounting every month." Trust accounting and monthly reconciliations went from bad to worse. As a lawyer, his desire was to practice law, not to function as an accountant. For Michael, trust accounting became unnecessarily more complicated.

 

Several years ago, the Watkins Law Firm decided to do a detailed personal audit of their trust accounts. In Michael's own words, "it was really messed up." As Michael and his wife went through dozens of accounts over a several year period, they quickly realized their books were not right. "The errors were so in-depth. We had to go through thousands of entries by hand in order to find why our trust accounts were off balance." Despite spending 4-6 hours every month reconciling their trust accounts, the errors continued to propagate in QuickBooks. "Simply put, QuickBooks is an accounting tool. It is not made for Trust Accounting."

At least with the 3-part one write system, the transactions were visible and easy to find. Conversely, QuickBooks would make their own designated entries, making it much more difficult to find errors and balance the trust accounts.

Michael Watkins
Watkins Law Firm

Switching to a Trust Accounting Software

Michael and his wife, Marilyn, were initially skeptical about switching to TrustBooks, thinking it would be just another technical tool they would have to learn to manipulate. Michael decided to test TrustBooks while his wife would continue using QuickBooks. "I transferred all the balances into TrustBooks, and it just worked right away. My wife would spend hours in QuickBooks and maybe get the right answer. I spent an hour and was able to complete it perfectly."

 

It wasn't long before Michael's wife, Marilyn, came around. Now Watkins Law Firm uses QuickBooks for general accounting, but not for Trust Accounts. "Despite being as skeptical as she was at the beginning, my wife will never use QuickBooks again for trust accounting. From now on she will only use TrustBooks."

 

For Watkins Law Firm, they needed a solution that would keep them legal, error-free, and balanced with their trust accounting. "TrustBooks is simply dedicated to our trust accounts. No more running formulas and complicated reports like in QuickBooks. With a push of a button we can immediately see balances, errors, transactions, everything. We will never go back."

With TrustBooks, it just works! The steps are simple and less involved. I can see an individuals’ client account up front. It shows if I took a fee, gave a refund, everything. It’s perfectly transparent and everything we need.

Michael Watkins
Watkins Law Firm