Financial and Accounting Skills for Lawyers 

Financial and Accounting Skills for Lawyers 

A good lawyer understands their client’s legal position. However, a great lawyer also understands the financial context in which their clients operate. Whether in the courtroom or at the negotiating table, when the conversation with clients turns to numbers, are you able to keep up? 

So what are the common accounting concepts or tax issues that lawyers may need to consider:

·      Getting the Balance Right: Navigating Key Financial Statements - Accounting issues arise in many different areas of the law. From an M & A transaction to a family law property dispute, and from an allegation of fraud to conducting due diligence on the sale of a business, lawyers need to have at least a basic understanding of accounting concepts and associated analytical skills. 

·      Financial Reporting: The Regulatory Overlay - Preparing financial reports used to be simple, but successful ruses by the unscrupulous have resulted in successively more restrictive layers of regulation to ensure the accuracy of financial reporting – a high level understanding of rules and regulations surrounding financial reporting is now required.

·      From Theory to Practice: in financial statements - Knowing the theory is the first step towards understanding financial statements, but being able to practically utilise the information for the purposes of issue identification, advising, forward planning and negotiating can make all the difference when servicing your clients. 

·      Making Dollars and Sense out of Business Valuations - Whether advising warring parties in property settlement proceedings in the Family Court, or navigating the sale or purchase of a business, business valuations can be an important part of a lawyer’s practice. 

·      Capital Gains Tax for Lawyers – General Principles - CGT is a complex tax which can bite you when you least expect it.  Other than those who practice in tax, lawyers need to understand the general principles.  But, most importantly, you need to be familiar with the most common situations in legal practice which have CGT implications and that is the focus of the next two sessions.

·      Capital Gains Tax for Lawyers – Common Scenarios - Your client will not want to pay any CGT.  It’s your job in common commercial transactions to be able to recognise CGT issues in transactions so that you can seek expert advice on them before it’s too late!  

·      Division 7A: A Primer for Lawyers - Division 7A is designed ultimately to tax loans and transfers of property from private companies to their shareholders or associates as if the loans or gifts were dividends.  Both loans and transfers of property are defined in very broad terms and can easily catch the unwary or uninformed.  And the reach of Division 7A extends in oblique ways to certain trust distributions as well.  

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