QuickBooks Online For Attorneys: Importing your Open Trust Client Liability Accounts

Continuing with my series on QuickBooks Online for attorneys last week we jumped into starting a brand new file and adding a law-specific chart of accounts. This week it's all about importing a list of your Client Ledger Accounts as sub-accounts under the parent trust liability account.

Opening Trust Account liability accounts

QuickBooks has a very easy way of importing the individual client ledgers into QuickBooks for an attorney restarting their books in the accounting software. These accounts must be current liability accounts with the detail type Trust Account. In the video, I demonstrated that the name must be EXACT as QuickBooks reads it in order for the import to be successful.

The accounts can be imported into QuickBooks from an Excel spreadsheet or file, but they should contain all the client names and matter names. See below after I cleaned up the list that I exported.

If you are pulling your names off of different software, most other products allow for export to .csv, which you can convert into an Excel spreadsheet. The best practice is to start from the old software, find your list, and export it. If your software does not allow an Excel format or .csv export, you can always export it to a PDF and use a tool like money thumb to convert it to .csv.

Note: this is the perfect time to clean up your list. Please go through it and strike out the names that you don't want to import. Resort the list by the struck-out names and remove them.

First, we will have to gather a list of names, onto an Excel spreadsheet. I like to recreate one with the total balances (my 3-way reconciliation) and then on another tab, remove the balances for import. This can be done on a manual typed-in spreadsheet or you can do it by exporting data from your past software. That is what I did in this example.

 It is very important in the import to add the parent account to the front of the name. There should be a colon in front of the name. You may need to do some “excel” magic to add the trust parent account to the listing so that it imports as a sub-account of your parent account -- especially if you have a large list.

Excel Tip

You will need to follow these steps to add a text before a text string in Excel: 

  1. Click on the first cell of the column where you want the converted names to appear (B2).
  2. Type equal sign (=), followed by the text “Funds held in Trust “, followed by an ampersand (&).
  3. Select the cell containing the first name (A2).
  4. Press the Return Key.
  5. You will notice that the title “Funds held in Trust” is added before the first name in the list.

Onto the actual import

Once you have the data prepared, the steps are much like last week. It's a very similar process to import the client ledgers as they're just simply sub-accounts of the parent account of the trust liability. As you will see in the video below. It's a simple process:

  • Go to the gear.
  • Go to Import.
  • Go to Chart of Accounts.
  • Download the template for formatting.
  • Import the list.

Now your chart of accounts should be complete.

Next Week

We dive into importing the client and vendor list. There is an option to add your employee list too.

 We hope you enjoyed our article about entering the client ledgers under the trust liability account. If you have any other questions or concerns about starting a new law firm company file in QuickBooks, please contact us anytime at

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Thank you for reading, we are always excited when one of our posts is able to provide useful information on a topic like this!

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Lynda Artesani

Lynda Artesani is the president of Artesani Accounting. Her firm specializes in working exclusively with the legal industry. She is passionate about helping her attorney clients migrate to modern cloud-based systems and become future-ready.​ ​ She is a Top 100 ProAdvisor, an alumni member of the Intuit Advisory Board and a member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network. She also runs a Facebook group and a private group called The Accountant's Law Lab. It is a place where members can learn how to work with attorneys and law firms. Lynda lives in Southwest Florida. She is a registered yoga teacher and in her free time, you will find practicing yoga or walking on the beach.​