We’re continuing on the topic of industry specialization this month. As you may know, Gibbons & Gibbons specializes on working with professional services providers, particularly law firms. We took a look at an article by Michael J. Nathanson and Stephen R. Stelljes of The Colony Group, entitled Specializing on Specialists: Financial Planning for Lawyers, in which the authors make the case for lawyers using financial planners who specialize in legal industry.

In our previous post, Why Your Law Firm Needs a Specialized Accountant, we considered law firms’ unique income forecasting and tax planning needs.

Investment, retirement, and estate planning

Lawyers’ income can fluctuate significantly from year to year, making traditional investment and retirement planning challenging. It’s important for law firms to work with an accountant who can help them create cash flow predictions that take these fluctuations into account. We make it easier for our clients to set funds aside for long-term goals.

As lawyers create a succession plan or look toward selling a practice, it’s key to make sure all financial documents and reports are ready. We give our clients the tools to create a plan for the future.

Working well with lawyers

Nathanson and Stelljes conclude their article by examining some traits common to many lawyers, arguing that understanding how lawyers think is a key part of serving the legal industry effectively. These traits are:

  • Risk aversion – Lawyers are trained to identify potential risks and minimize them. In our accounting practice, we see risk aversion take the form of reluctance to embrace automation and cloud-based technologies. Forming a relationship of trust with a specialized accountant can help law firms take advantage of these technologies in a low-risk, high-reward manner.
  • Efficiency – Lawyers often charge by the billable hour. As a result, they prize efficiency, maximizing the value of their time and minimizing the time they spend on non-billable work (like evaluating accounting software tools). The law firm clients we work with appreciate our recommendations and expertise in cloud-based accounting.
  • Analytic approach – Lawyers love to analyze arguments or information and find the weak points. It can be tough to persuade law firms to take a new approach toward accounting and bookkeeping. We’re always happy to answer questions and explain the reasoning behind a recommendation to our clients.

Joe Gibbons, CPA is managing partner of Gibbons & Gibbons, P.C., a Northern Virginia-based accounting and business advisory firm that specializes in working with law firms and other professional service providers.

Photo by Patrik Göthe on Unsplash

Categories: Law Firms