The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

The Institute and its objectives

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers is the largest bookkeeping institute in the world. It promotes and maintains the standards of bookkeeping as a profession, through the establishment of a series of relevant qualifications and the award of grades of membership that recognise academic attainment, working experience and competence.

The Institute’s objectives are:

to promote bookkeeping as a profession

to enable bookkeeping to gain recognition as an integral part of the financial profession

to promote training in the principles of bookkeeping

to develop personal study skills and improve confidence of those persons who undertake a course in bookkeeping

to enable the achievement of a qualification, which may be used to enhance prospects for progression into higher levels of study

to improve the career prospects of its members

Consultation with commerce and industry has confirmed and amplified the Institute’s assessment of the need for qualified bookkeepers. Employers both large and small are fully supportive of the objectives of The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers.

What is a Bookkeeper?

Bookkeeping is a growing profession – it is demanding, exciting, challenging and above all, rewarding. It is about understanding how a business works and then providing accurate figures that enable the business to know exactly how well it is doing. For men and women of all ages and from all backgrounds it provides outstanding career opportunities.

The basic system of double entry bookkeeping was invented more than five hundred years ago by a Cistercian monk called Luca Pacioli. His system still endures today and is used throughout the world, making bookkeeping a truly international profession. This website will give an understanding of how to train to become a bookkeeper and how to become a member of ICB. It will also help those who already have a qualification or have been working as a bookkeeper for many years but now want the support of a professional organisation to enhance career prospects.


Every business, no matter how large or small, is required by law to ‚keep books‘. This involves the recording of the financial transactions of a business, whether manually into ledgers or by entering everything onto a computer. So, if you are well organised and methodical, like working through documents and enjoy seeing a set of figures add up properly, bookkeeping could be the career for you.

People of all ages are becoming bookkeepers: Young people fresh from school or college can achieve a professional qualification that opens up a whole new world of business to them or may become the first step to becoming a qualified accountant. More mature people bring years‘ of experience to their role and are in great demand from businesses who want a safe pair of hands. Many are mothers wanting to find a well-paid career running a bookkeeping business from home whilst still bringing up their family.

Legal Bookkeeping

Keeping the accounts for a firm of solicitors or legal professionals is a specialist area and requires an understanding of the legal profession.  The key feature that distinguishes legal practices from other businesses is the retention of client funds.  How the money is treated, and indeed the interest accrued on it, are enshrined in a complex set of rules and guidelines; the Solicitors‘ Accounts Rules (SAR), and fall within the scope of the Money Laundering Regulations (MLR).

The Legal Bookkeeping correspondence course

The ICB course is delivered through distance-learning with tutor support.  The objective of the course materials, ongoing assignments, and tutor support is to prepare the student to work competently as a bookkeeper and financial manager for a solicitors practice in England and Wales.

The course will extend existing knowledge of bookkeeping into the legal framework and equip students to produce accounts for a legal practice or ‚firm‘.  The course includes tuition on the regulatory framework that is applied to legal accounts and it assumes bookkeeping competence to at least the ICB Level III qualification.

If you are already employed as a legal bookkeeper or financial manager the Certified Legal Bookkeeper course will act as CPD and proof of competence.  If you are new to legal bookkeeping, it will hopefully open up new opportunities for employment or perhaps provide the scope for you to take on new clients.

Course Author and Tutor

The Certified Legal Bookkeeper course has been written by Geoff Smith MICB, a legal bookkeeper for thirty years and a member of the ICB’s Advisory Council.  In this comprehensive course Geoff shares his experience of the profession with obvious enthusiasm.  Geoff will act as the lead tutor on the course and will be on hand to guide your study. Upon satisfactory completion of this course you will be awarded the ICB Diploma in Legal Bookkeeping and members of the ICB will be awarded Certified Legal Bookkeeper status.

Course Outline 

The course is split into thirty one sections.  There are five tutor-marked assignments and one final assessment, the Diploma in Legal Bookkeeping.  Students will be given Tutor support for up to 12 months from enrolment on the course.

The title of Certified Legal Bookkeeper will be awarded to ICB members who will be subject to the ICB’s Professional Conduct Regulations and Continuous Professional Development requirements.

The need for specialist legal bookkeeping training

An overview of the Legal Profession, Legal Accounts and the Legal Office

Professional and Consumer Regulation

Understanding the Legal Accounts Department

The Legal Accounts Process

New matters
Looking after client funds

Looking After Client Funds

What is client money?
Handling client money
Holding funds outside of client account
Recording the receipts
Transfer to and from deposit
Transfers between client ledgers
Accounting for interest
Accounting for commission and other ancillary income
Payments from client account
Reconciling the client bank account
Residual balances
Mistakes and other issues

The Office Account

An overview
Identifying office money

Dealing with Mixed Money

Understanding Disbursements

Invoicing your Clients

Recording the Transactions

Petty Cash


Credit Notes, Write-offs Bad Debts

The Accounts Report

Receipts from the Legal Services Commission

Accounting Records

Monitoring and Investigation by the SRA

Profit & Loss Account and Balance Sheet


Bankers Draft
Disbursement vs Expense
Help with the Trial Balance
Additional VAT Guidance
VAT EC Sales List – Form VAT 101 (i)

Course Enrolment

The course and the final assessment are available on-demand throughout the year.  You can book your place on this course at our online shop.