HOW A WASHINGTON, D.C., LAW FIRM THAT SPECIALIZES IN HIGH-PROFILE WORKPLACE-DISCRIMINATION CASES KEEPS ITS BOOKS SQUEAKY CLEAN
When your law firm’s name is often in the news, you can’t afford careless bookkeeping mistakes that could result in penalties, fines or negative publicity. That’s why Wilkenfeld, Herendeen & Atkinson relies on Supporting Strategies.
Founded in 2013, Wilkenfeld, Herendeen & Atkinson (WHA) is a Washington law firm that represents victims of on-the-job discrimination, harassment and retaliation. “We believe everyone is entitled to a just and equitable workplace,” the firm states on its website.
Establishing Good Practices
There’s no place for guesswork in the legal profession. “All of our cases come down to what we can prove,” says Rosalind Herendeen, Co-Founder and Partner at WHA. “Not what we suspect, not what we think, but what we can prove.”
Law firms are held to similarly exacting standards when it comes to bookkeeping. Funds from new clients are placed in trust accounts for future use. There are specific regulations around how trust account funds are used, so it’s vital, therefore, to keep trust fund monies separate from the firm’s day-to-day cash flow.
On the Case
Adding to the challenge for WHA, the firm used separate software programs for case management (Clio) and bookkeeping (QuickBooks). By 2015, continued growth meant the firm was having greater difficulty integrating the two separate software systems and reconciling bank statements.
At the same time, WHA was establishing a reputation for championing victims of workplace civil rights violations, including sexual harassment and discrimination based on race, gender or age. Some of these cases had received widespread media coverage. Avoiding fines or penalties for mishandling client funds, even inadvertently, was of paramount importance.
Based on a referral from a Boston-based CPA, WHA turned to Lori Kunkel, Managing Director of Supporting Strategies | Southern New Hampshire, for help.
Asked and Answered
By the time Samirah Ware-Baylor joined WHA as Director of Litigation Support and Office Manager in 2016, Supporting Strategies had already resolved the firm’s major bookkeeping issues.
Now, according to Ware-Baylor, it’s largely a matter of holding occasional conference calls to confirm the books are accurate and in compliance, and to resolve any issues that crop up whenever WHA sets up a new client account. “Having their assistance available as needed takes a lot of pressure off of me,” Ware-Baylor says.
Specifically, Supporting Strategies:
- Reconciles all trust activity and invoicing between Clio and QuickBooks
- Flags any payments that are inadvertently placed in the operating account instead of the trust account
- Provides a second set of eyes for tracking invoices, retainer deposits and settlement checks
“Supporting Strategies is a real asset to our firm,” says Ware-Baylor. “They’re always available to answer my questions, and they explain things in a way that I can understand. That makes it easy for me to work things out.”
And that, in turn, enables WHA to focus on working things out for victims of workplace harassment and discrimination.