Compliance, regulation, risk and the threat of an SRA intervention; Compliance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules, abiding by Outcome Focused Regulation and COLP & COFA responsibilities add to the burden of running any legal practice, large or small.
For larger firms with teams of legal cashiers to maintain day to day records, monitor irregularities and report breaches to financial controllers or superiors, the burden is of administrative cost, but the firm is safe in the knowledge that they are self sufficient, autonomous and regulatory compliant.
Smaller firms however may employee a full time legal cashier which is not financially viable for a small number of transactions being processed or regularly the managing partner may try their hand at processing the legal accounts themselves.
What could possibly go wrong?
Recent rulings by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal have shown a growing trend of solicitors being struck off for breaching the Solicitors Accounts Rules, from using client funds to fund office account transactions, using client accounts as banking facilities or not having proper and correct accounting records. It is clear that some practices need support. But where from?
How does it work?
A number of Outsourced Legal Cashiering firms are able to provide ad hoc remote support or consultancy to firms across England & Wales such as Ascentant without the need to be onsite. By setting up a user account within the firms IT system and creating a Virtual Private Network (VPN), remote access can be provided to the firms Practice Management System to process transactions. This may include systems such as P4W, Peppermint, Aderant, 3E or SOS. Accounts payable invoices, expenses and client bills can be emailed for processing and if granted hardcopy bank statements or read only access to the firms bank account, daily transactions can be processed in compliance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules.
The question of data protection and confidentiality is addressed at the outset of any engagement, whereby a confidentiality agreement is signed by the remote legal cashier and firm.
The benefit of a remote legal cashier is that they can work offsite and for as much or little time as required. A practice may only need a legal cashier for a few hours a day or a few days a week. The cost savings compared to employing a full time legal cashier quickly appreciate and the practice has peace of mind.
If you are considering engaging an outsourced legal cashier or interested in further information, contact Kevin@ascentant.co.uk