Compliance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules, 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 cost, but the firm is safe in the knowledge that they are regulatory compliant.
Smaller firms however may employ a full time legal cashier which is not financially viable for the small number of transactions being processed or a sole practitioner may try their hand at processing the legal accounts themselves.
What could 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.
A key breach is the late posting of transactions which as a pattern of behaviour, becomes a material and reportable breach.
It is clear that some smaller practices need support and could benefit from outsourced support.How does it work?
Outsourced Legal Cashiering firms are able to provide ad hoc remote support 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 Tikit Partner 4 Windows, Peppermint, Aderant, 3E or SOS.
Accounts payable invoices, expenses and client bills can be emailed for processing, uploaded via a portal or stored in a shared workspace for processing.
Bank transactions can be accessed via read only bank account access or hard copy statements, allowing compliance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules.
What should I consider?
Amongst a number of considerations, you should think about:
- IT System access – How are your systems hosted and how will they be accessed?
- Workflows – Will you utilise a shared workspace? A portal? Or email documents?
- Compliance with the Code of Conduct – You should inform your clients of an outsourcing agreement per outcome 4.1 of the code of conduct.
- Confidentiality – A binding agreement should be drawn up at the outset of any agreement per indicative behaviour 4.3 of the code of conduct.
Can you work onsite too?
Ascentant are based in Derby and therefore in addition to providing remote outsourced support, are able to work onsite for Legal Practices in Derby and across the East Midlands. We can work in your Cashroom or drop in to collect hard copy documents as and when required.
Can you provide holiday or sickness cover?
In addition to providing full outsourced Legal Cashiering, we are able to provide short term onsite or offsite holiday or sickness cover – Negating the need for recruitment agencies to provide temporary workers.
What other services can be provided?
In addition to Outsourced Legal Cashiering, Management Accounting, Payroll, VAT assistance and Compliance can be provided.
By outsourcing the Cashroom, smaller practices can access a bank of resources which they only pay for as they use. This saves on redundant time if a Legal Cashier is employed inhouse, but not fully utilised.
Holiday and sickness cover is provided, saving the scramble to engage a recruitment agency at short notice.
Other cost savings include Employer National Insurance, Auto Enrolment costs, staff benefits and even savings on rental space and utilities.
Pricing & Saving Guarantee
Ascentant offer a number of pricing options from hourly to transactional, also offering a guaranteed saving on any current contract with another Outsourced Cashiering provider.
Ascentant was created by Kevin Drew in 2015, having spent his career working in Law firms in London, managing Finance and Compliance teams.
Ascentant work with the Institute of Legal Finance & Management (ILFM) of which Kevin is a qualified member, to promote high standards and educate firms on compliance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules.
Ascentant are also a LEAP Legal IT Partner and work with National Solicitors and Legal Brokers to assist start up practices and provide outsourced solutions.
If you are considering outsourcing your Cashroom or interested in further information, contact Kevin Drew on 01332 897356 or Kevin@ascentant.co.uk