By Legal Futures Associate ILFM
Legal cashier roles have become increasingly important in the world of law. As the legal landscape evolves, so does the demand for specialised legal financial management. What are legal cashiers, their career opportunities, and the impact of social mobility on their profession?
Legal Cashiers – the key takeaways
- Legal cashiers are vital to law firms’ financial success, with key responsibilities including balancing double ledgers, adhering to SRA Accounts Rules, managing accounts and ensuring compliance.
- There is an increasing demand for legal cashiers due to the shortage of qualified professionals, providing opportunities for career advancement and higher salaries.
- The legal profession encourages social mobility by offering equal opportunity progression. Aspiring legal cashiers can gain experience through professional courses & certifications as well as networking events and community forums.
Exploring the role of a legal cashier
A legal cashier is a specialised bookkeeper responsible for managing the law firms’ finances and ensuring compliance with Accounts Rules. Their role is vital in maintaining the financial health of a law firm and providing a strong foundation for the practice’s business growth. By managing legal accounts, keeping track of ledgers, and protecting the client accounts, they contribute to the overall success and future of the firm.
With the increasing complexity of the legal profession, legal cashiers (and Legal Bookkeepers for our Northern Ireland readers) have become indispensable in navigating the financial maze of law firms across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Legal cashiers don’t need to come to offices any more. With secure IT and software, freelance or employed finance teams operating within law firm businesses can expect to seamlessly continue their work wherever they are based. Long gone are the days of physically taking the “cash” to the bank.
As financial guardians of law firms, legal cashiers have several responsibilities including:
- Managing accounts and administrative tasks
- Processing invoices
- Maintaining file organisation and ledgers
- Handling payments
- Overseeing cash flow
- Double Entry & trial balances
- Bank Reconciliation
- Entering receipts, payments and cost transfers
- Verifying payment details
- Arranging client account payments
- Recording disbursements in the financial records
- Month end processes
Their role in ensuring accuracy and efficiency in key areas is a determinant of a firm’s long-term stability and success.
From verifying the accuracy of invoices and entering them into the accounting system using double entry bookkeeping for client accounts, to ensuring timely payments and compliance with regulations, legal cashiers play a pivotal role in a firm’s financial management.
Required skills and qualifications
A successful legal cashier needs:
- Strong accounting skills.
- Meticulous attention to detail.
- In-depth knowledge of legal regulations (such as the SRA Accounts Rules).
- Credentials like the ILFM Diploma Level (ILFM(Dip)), certificates in Bookkeeping for Legal Finance Professionals and Legal Finance Compliance and Accounts Rules. Familiarity with VAT returns is often helpful (but not necessary).
- Mastery of legal accounting software, particularly important for larger firms with intricate financial management requirements.
Besides these qualifications, a legal cashier needs to be familiar with annual audit and inspection processes, key financial management areas, and industry regulations. Adhering to the recommendations of the Social Mobility Commission can enhance workplace diversity and inclusivity.
Invest in your education, become part of a team, focus on freelancing or a look at being the sole cashier in an “office”. Contact our Qualifications and Training Manager, Helen Cockburn directly if you’d like to find out more.
The growing demand for legal cashiers
The recent years have seen a significant increase in the demand for legal cashiers. This is unsurprising considering the boom in the legal sector since the pandemic.
Given their crucial role in financial management and regulatory compliance, legal cashiers are highly sought-after professionals in the intricate legal landscape of today.
Impact on law firms
Law firms face the challenge of finding qualified legal cashiers due to the limited number of candidates. This high demand, coupled with a lack of suitable candidates, has forced law firms to seek alternative solutions, such as outsourced cashiering services, for their clients.
These external providers offer law firms the option to manage their cashiering needs without the pressure of recruiting qualified professionals in-house.
Opportunities for career advancement
As the demand for legal cashiers grows, so do the opportunities for career advancement and higher salaries. Legal cashiers can progress from junior roles to higher-level positions with supervisory responsibilities, such as Senior or Head Cashier. These roles come with increased responsibilities and the opportunity to manage more complex tasks.
Professional development and training opportunities can also help legal cashiers further enhance their skills and qualifications. By embracing these opportunities, legal cashiers can unlock even greater career growth and success in the legal profession.
Comparing legal cashier roles in different types of law firms
Legal cashiers can find employment in various types of law firms, including:
- Magic Circle firms
- City firms
- National firms
- High Street firms
- Conveyancing legal practices
- Being a freelancer to sole practitioners
The roles and responsibilities of legal cashiers may differ slightly depending on the type of firm, with factors such as the size and clientele of the firm influencing the scope of their work.
In large commercial City firms, competition for training contracts is intense, and employees often enjoy a better work-life balance than those in Magic Circle firms. Magic Circle firms, considered the most prestigious in the UK, offer higher salaries and international opportunities; however, they often come with long working hours and close supervision.
The larger the practice, the more colleagues within the accounts department you will have around you. With bigger firms you might find yourself working solely on billing for example, whereas if you are in a high street firm, you’ll probably be working across all the mediums.
Aspiring legal cashiers should meticulously research and contrast the opportunities and challenges at various types of law firms before making a decision. The choice of work environment can greatly influence their career progression and job satisfaction.
Social mobility in the legal profession
In the legal profession, social mobility is key as it fosters workforce diversity and inclusivity, plus it opens doors for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Promoting social mobility and providing equal opportunities for career progression makes the legal profession more equitable and inclusive. This forward-thinking approach allows legal cashiers to refine their skills and knowledge, propelling their careers to new heights.
Training and development for legal cashiers
Legal cashiers have access to various training and development opportunities, including professional courses, certifications, and industry events. These opportunities allow legal cashiers to stay up-to-date with industry standards and regulations, ensuring they remain valuable and sought-after professionals in the legal sector.
The Institute of Legal Finance & Management (ILFM) is the professional body for legal cashiers, law firm finance professionals, COFAs and practice managers in the UK.
Professional courses and certifications
The ILFM Diploma, offered by the Institute of Legal Finance and Management (ILFM), is a popular professional qualification for legal cashiers in the UK. The diploma consists of two certificates – Bookkeeping for Legal Finance Professionals and Legal Finance Practice – providing legal cashiers with a comprehensive understanding of the industry.
Networking and industry events
Networking and attending industry events can significantly enhance career prospects for legal cashiers. Events such as ILFM Conferences provide opportunities to learn from industry professionals, connect with colleagues, and gain valuable insights into the legal field.
By participating in these events, legal cashiers can expand their professional network, stay informed about the latest industry trends, and ultimately boost their career opportunities.
Tips for aspiring legal cashiers
For those looking to pursue a career as a legal cashier, gaining relevant experience through work experience could be helpful, or look out for scholarships and apprenticeships. This hands-on experience will help aspiring legal cashiers understand the role and develop the skills they need to succeed.
Legal cashiers in the making could focus on showcasing their skills on their CV. By providing examples of exceptional service in past positions, potential employers will recognise these valuable skills and be more likely to consider the candidate for the role. When it comes to legal accounts and finances, a keen eye for detail, an ease with numbers, discretion and a willing to learn will be seen as a great start.
Lastly, ambitious legal cashiers should strive to obtain qualifications in finance or accounting. Such credentials establish a solid foundation for understanding the financial ramifications of their decisions, paving the way for a successful career in the legal profession.
It really is a rewarding career.
In conclusion, legal cashiers play a vital role in law firms, managing finances and ensuring compliance with industry regulations. As the demand for legal cashiers continues to grow, so do the opportunities for career growth and development. By embracing social mobility, pursuing relevant qualifications, and participating in networking events, legal cashiers can unlock a world of possibilities and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive legal profession.
Frequently asked questions
How much does a legal cashier earn?
A Legal Cashier in the UK typically earns between £21,000 and £60,000 per year, depending on factors such as location, firm size, and experience. If you Google the role in your area, the search results will give you an indication.
What are the main responsibilities of a legal cashier?
As a legal cashier, you are responsible for managing accounts, processing invoices, handling payments, and managing cash flow in law firms, whilst adhering to the SRA Accounts Rules.
How can I become a qualified legal cashier?
If you want to become a qualified legal cashier, obtaining the ILFM Diploma is the way to go. It consists of the Bookkeeping for Legal Finance Professionals and Legal Finance Practice certificates.
The majority of ILFM students also work full or part-time, which takes into consideration the length of the studies. Have a read of an ILFM member’s advice for working and studying at the same time HERE.