Legal Accounting
  I: Administrative Information   II: Course Details   III: Topical Outline(s)  Printable Version
Section I: Administrative Information
  Total hours: 42.0
Credit Value: 3.0
Credit Value Notes: N/A
Effective: Spring/Summer 2020
Prerequisites: N/A
Corequisites: N/A
Equivalents: N/A
Pre/Co/Equiv Notes: N/A

Program(s): Paralegal
Program Coordinator(s): Michelle Roy McSpurren
Course Leader or Contact: Pauline Giovannetti
Version: 20200519_00
Status: Approved (APPR)

Section I Notes: N/A

Section II: Course Details

Detailed Description
Students apply accounting principles in the context of a paralegal practice. Students create books and records for every step in the accounting cycle. Students analyze transactions involving various types of funds, the general account and the trust account and implement procedures for compliance with their professional and ethical obligations.

Program Context

Paralegal Program Coordinator(s): Michelle Roy McSpurren
This is a required course in the Paralegal program. Skills developed in this course are used for business purposes and also for compliance with a licensed paralegal's ethical and professional obligations.

Course Critical Performance and Learning Outcomes

  Critical Performance:
By the end of this course, students will have demonstrated the ability to create proper books and records in accordance with the standards established by the Law and Society of Upper Canada for paralegals and generally accepted accounting principles.
Learning Outcomes:

To achieve the critical performance, students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Identify basic accounting terminology and concepts, including the accounting equation and debits and credits.
  2. Apply general accounting principles, including financial and record keeping obligations.
  3. Distinguish between a general account and a trust account.
  4. Interpret the Law Society's books and record-keeping requirements.
  5. Identify the obligations related to trust accounts.
  6. Distinguish between accounting journals and accounting ledgers (in accordance with governing by-laws).
  7. Record analyzed transactions.
  8. Creating adjusting entries.
  9. Prepare a trial balance.
  10. Interpret financial statements.
  11. Explain bank reconciliations.
  12. Calculate applicable HST on legal fees.

Evaluation Plan
Students demonstrate their learning in the following ways:

 Evaluation Plan: IN-CLASS
 In-class weekly quizzes (10 x 2% each)20.0%
 Test #120.0%
 Assignment #120.0%
 Assignment #220.0%
 Test #220.0%

Evaluation Notes and Academic Missed Work Procedure:
Test and Assignment Protocol The following practices are agreed to by the professors and will apply to all courses in the Paralegal program. 1. For assignments and projects, the professor will specify in writing due dates and special instructions at the beginning of the semester. Late assignments will receive a penalty of 10% per day (including weekends and holidays) up to 5 days. After the 5th day, students will receive a grade of zero on the assignment. 2. Students must complete every assignment as an individual. 3. Students must write all tests and quizzes at the scheduled time. A make-up test may be provided for students who provide an acceptable explanation of their absence and/or acceptable documentation explaining their absence (for example, a medical certificate). Vacation and work are not acceptable reasons for absence from a test or examination and will not be accommodated.

Provincial Context
The course meets the following Ministry of Colleges and Universities requirements:


Essential Employability Skills
Essential Employability Skills emphasized in the course:

  • Interpersonal Skills - Show respect for the diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.
  • Interpersonal Skills - Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.
  • Numeracy - Execute mathematical operations accurately.
  • Personal Skills - Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.
  • Communication Skills - Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken, visual form that fulfills the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.
  • Communication Skills - Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Skills - Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving - Apply a systematic approach to solve problems.
  • Information Management Skills - Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.
  • Information Management - Locate, select, organize and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.
  • Personal Skills - Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
PLAR Contact (if course is PLAR-eligible) - Office of the Registrar

  • Not Eligible for PLAR

Section III: Topical Outline
Some details of this outline may change as a result of circumstances such as weather cancellations, College and student activities, and class timetabling.
Instruction Mode: In-Class
Professor: Multiple Professors
RequiredTextbookLegal Accounting, 2nd Edition, Asselin, Jacqueline and Nisbet, Keri, Edmond Publications, 2018

Applicable student group(s): Paralegal
Course Details:
Module 1:  Role of the Law Society of Ontario

Targeted LSO Competencies: 176, 179, 180


  • Requirement for books and records
  • Forms of business organization
  • Insurance requirements
  • Maintaining proper records
  • Bank accounts in a legal services firm
  • LSO by-laws

Assessment: In-class weekly quizzes (2% each)


Module 2:  Introduction to bookkeeping

Targeted LSO Competencies: 175, 177


  • What is accounting?
  • Categories of accounts
  • The accounting equation
  • The opening balance sheet

Assessment: In-class weekly quizzes (2% each)


Module 3:  Maintaining books and records

Targeted LSO Competencies: 175, 177-179, 184, 186


  • Accounting basics
  • The accounting cycle
  • Debit and credit entries
  • Analyzing entries
  • Recording transactions
  • General journals

Assessment: In-class weekly quizzes (2% each)

Assessment: Test #1 - (20%)

(Targeted LSO Competencies: 175-180, 184, 186)


Module 4:  Posting transactions

Targeted LSO Competencies: 175, 177, 178, 184, 186


  • Posting from the general journal to the general ledger
  • Preparing trial balances

Assessment: In-class weekly quizzes (2% each)


Module 5:  Financial statements

Targeted LSO Competencies: 175, 177, 178, 187


  • Income Statements
  • Statement of Owner's Equity
  • Balance Sheet

Assessment: In-class weekly quizzes (2% each)


Module 6:  Special journals

Targeted LSO Competency: 175, 177, 178, 180-184


  • Billing
  • Disbursements and expense recovery
  • Recording and posting entries in special journals
  • Client ledgers
  • LSO by-laws

Assessment: In-class weekly quizzes (2% each)


Module 7:  Trust accounting

Targeted LSO Competency: 175, 177-184, 189


  • General accounts vs trust accounts
  • Trust journals and ledgers
  • Client ledgers
  • Handling of cash 
  • The Valuable Property Records
  • LSO by-laws

Assessment: In-class weekly quizzes (2% each)

Assessment: Assignment #2, (20%)

   (Targeted LSO Competencies: 175, 177-184, 187)


Module 8:  Administrative accounting

Targeted LSO Competency:  175, 177-180, 184-186,188, 189


  • Adjusting entries 
  • Adjusted trial balances
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Goods and services tax
  • Income tax considerations (record-keeping and types of expenses)
  • LSO by-laws


Module 9:  Legal accounting software (time permitting and subject to availability)


  • PCLaw

Assessment:  In-class weekly quizzes (2% each)

Assessment:  Test #2 (cumulative) (20%)

(Targeted LSO competencies: 175-185, 187-189)



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Academic Integrity: The principle of academic integrity requires that all work submitted for evaluation and course credit be the original, unassisted work of the student. Cheating or plagiarism including borrowing, copying, purchasing or collaborating on work, except for group projects arranged and approved by the professor, or otherwise submitting work that is not the student's own, violates this principle and will not be tolerated. Students who have any questions regarding whether or not specific circumstances involve a breach of academic integrity are advised to review the Academic Integrity Policy and procedure and/or discuss them with the professor.

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