By Legal Futures’ Associates ILFM
A legal cashier navigating a law firm’s complex technical and regulatory landscape can be stressful.
Law firms need to keep a clear focus on supporting their account’s department to ensure they comply with relevant legislative requirements to ensure the whole firm is operating responsibly, sustainably and ethically.
Depending on the size of your firm, or whether you are an SP outsourcing your finances and cash to an accountancy firm, it’s really important you support that arm of your business, through a variety of ways. Of course we’d say it’s a no brainer to offer your legal cashier and each of your finance team an ILFM membership (especially at £10 per user per month) as the back up itself is invaluable, but let’s go over our five effective tips that should be rolled out to support legal cashiers and legal finance teams as a whole.
1. Educate all your practice about the importance of departmental differences.
Legal finance teams know what’s going on with all your firm’s client and office accounts, your salaries, the expenses, the disbursements, the SRA Rules, VAT updates, software changes, plus they have to deal on a daily basis with anxious credit calls and last minute solicitor panic emails. The legal cashier is often the legal finance fodder, yet they always manage to stay calm either to you, your colleague or a disgruntled recipient of a credit control letter.
The more we work from home the better the communication has to become, and therefore having internal updates about what the finance team is up to, why they have to stay on top of compliance, VAT and SRA updates should be a business wide joint conversation – it’s all about open communication..
Have a trainee solicitor sit in with a legal cashier for a day or two to watch and listen can be deemed effective for overall practice harmony and understanding, and why not vice versa. Just ensure their own work is being done without extra pressure.
2. Train Legal Cashier Newbies
The ILFM’s “Fundamentals of Legal Cashiering” is such a cost effective way of supporting your legal cashier, especially if they are new to the industry. Knowing that they have a whole day of training will give any newbie the confidence to step into their role smoothly.
- Double Entry Bookkeeping
- Client and Office Accounts
- SRA Accounts Rules
- The Annual Audit
Training is important because it represents opportunities for your legal cashier to grow their knowledge base to become more effective for the whole firm. Despite the cost of training for employees, the return on investment is immense if it is consistent.
3. Commit to Qualifying your Legal Cashier
Legal cashiers often come into a legal practice as a young recruit, someone who has landed a job but isn’t necessarily qualified to do accounts per se. Recruitment can be exhausting and expensive, so ultimately you want that person to stay especially if you have followed tip number two above!
Offering qualifications can feel extremely supportive to a legal cashier. We have been training legal cashiers for over 25 years and the feedback only gets better.
The ILFM’s Diploma Level – ILFM(Dip) is the national go to Legal Cashier Qualification. It gives a thorough understanding of the processes that are done on a daily basis through to trial balance level.
Qualifications make legal cashiers feel empowered, recognised and appreciated. You’ve got a person who then feels part of the team and will ensure their work means more to them then just their monthly paycheque.
4. Create a supportive environment
This past year has been emotionally draining and mental health is often not high on the agenda for legal firms; it really doesn’t matter the size of the firm and if you have an HR team with someone who is themselves trained for not only looking after ACAS mental health updates, but someone who goes out of their way to keep a lookout for concerning signs will elevate your business. Whether or not your audience is B2B or B2C, clients know when internal frictions are in play.
By creating a safe and supportive environment where the legal cashier (and their finance team if a bigger firm) feels they can talk to someone with a discreet and sensitive attitude can prevent long term sick leave or general negativity at work. Stress at work causes mistakes. Mistakes are a no no when money laundering and compliance is so important.
Often legal legal firms let a part time legal cashier come in and crack on with their work and leave them to it. It can be isolating and lonely, and if part time they might not feel like a proper team member. Go out of your way to ensure they have their needs met, they are included in discussions and are listened to, whilst being fully supported.
It’s a win:win tip this one, because having to train someone up again if you fall short of care can lead to other stresses and possible HR issues.
5. Open conversations around legal finance software
Legal accounting software that is designed for digital and compliance simplicity should be a conversation that isn’t just down to the Managing Partner. If you want a seamless integration of new software then surely your accounts team and legal cashier should be part of the decision process.
Billing and expenses, VAT compatibility, SRA demands, client and office reconciliations, running error free audits that all need to adhere to stringent compliance and money laundering training can be a daily headache for a legal cashier and so if you are the COFA, make sure you are thinking with your cashier in mind when discussing software migration with other firm employees.