Outsourcing your Legal Cashiering can have many rewards. You can save money, buying in services as and when needed, rather than paying a full time Financial Controller. Also you can utilise holiday and sickness cover at no extra cost.
There are a number of considerations before deciding to Outsource your Legal Accounts Management to an Outsourced provider or a Freelance Remote Legal Accountant.
In the validation phase, it is essential to ensure that an Outsourced Legal Cashiering arrangement is practical.
Examine your IT systems to ensure that the Legal Cashier can access them. Questions to consider include:
- How are your systems hosted? Are they server based or cloud?
- If cloud hosted, will the Legal Cashier have access to a remote desktop? Or a direct link to the Practice Management Software?
- If server hosted, can a VPN be set up for the Legal Cashier? Will an accounts desktop be required for remote access?
How will payment requests and financial information be communicated to the Legal Cashier?
- Will there be a central point of contact such as a secretary or administrator to forward information onwards? Or will individual fee earners make requests directly?
- Will you use payment request forms/chits? Does the Practice Management System have the facility to do this electronically?
- How will documents be stored? Will there be a shared workspace?
- How will financial information requests be forwarded? Will they be emailed? Will an App be utilised such as Receipt Bank or Concur?
- It is important to remember that financial records will need to be stored and maintained in the Legal Practice still, subject to SRA or HMRC inspection. Also practices subject to a Client Account Audit will need information onsite for inspection.
Due Diligence Phase
The due diligence phase should identify possible vendors and establish that they are capable of providing a high quality service.
It is important to establish that the vendor has a full Business Continuity Plan and insurance in place to assist with disasters or emergencies.
- In the event of a key person falling ill, what is the back up plan?
- In the event of the vendor having an IT failure, what is the back up plan?
- Does the vendor hold professional indemnity insurance?
Establish that the vendor has experience in providing Outsourced Legal Cashiering services and that they are suitably qualified to meet your requirements.
- Will you have access to the same Legal Cashier each day?
- Who will cover for sickness or absences?
- Are all members of staff suitably qualified? Are they members of the ILFM?
- Do members of staff undertake CIPD to maintain knowledge?
Once your IT systems, workflows and initial due diligence have been verified and you are ready for vendor selection, it is essential to ensure compliance with the SRA handbook.
You should ensure that vendors have a robust confidentiality process in place and that clients’ confidential information will be protected per indicative behavior 4.3 in the code.
How does the vendor ensure confidentiality? Is this is staff or contractor agreements?
Is there a standard Non Disclosure Agreement or Confidentiality Agreement for the vendor?
Inform Your Clients
Client consent will be required to share necessary financial documentation with the Outsourced Legal Cashier per outcome 4.1 of the code. This maybe included in client care letters or terms of business. But clients must have the ability to decline consent. This could be included in the terms of business as “if you are not happy with this, please contact us to discuss your options”.
Per outcome 7.10 of the code of conduct, solicitors must per any outsourcing agreement:
ensure their ability to comply with their regulatory arrangements is not compromised;
ensure the SRA’s ability to monitor that compliance is not compromised; and ensure their obligations to their clients are not affected.
For further information on the implications of Outsourcing Legal Accountancy, ring us on 01332 981920 or use the Contact Form.