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When we think of law firms, images of qualified solicitors working with efficient support staff often come to mind. However, there are crucial roles, behind the scenes, which play significant parts in the smooth functioning of any legal practice.

In this article we interview, Sara Day, our Head of Accounts about the world of the Legal Cashier.

What does a Legal Cashier do?

A Legal Cashier is a specialist bookkeeper responsible for managing the accounting and financial operations of a solicitors’ practice. Their duties range from recording day-to-day financial transactions to ensuring strict compliance with the SRA Accounts Rules, which are regulations to safeguard client funds and prevent fraud and money laundering.

What is their Role and Responsibilities?

Transactions involve handling both client money and the firm’s funds, making it essential to mitigate the risks of financial malfeasance. Legal Cashiers must adhere to the SRA Code of Conduct for Firms and comply with the SRA accounts rules maintaining the highest standards of financial integrity.

How does a Cashier help defend against Fraud?

The risk of fraud is a serious risk and concern to all solicitor’s firms.  In our practice where we specialise in Equity Release there is an increased risk of Elder Fraud.  It is everyone’s duty to protect vulnerable clients and every member of the team are vigilant and aware of the signs of potentially fraudulent activity. Our cashiers look at each case with fresh eyes, using their experience to not only process the requested transaction but, as they are arm’s length they can often take a more objective view.

Case Study

Our Legal Cashier was requested to make a payment to a third party on behalf of a client, at the client’s specific request.  As law firms cannot act as a bank, this could not be done however the nature of the payee that was requested to be paid raised a concern regarding suspicious or unusual activity.

Sensitively and diplomatically the Legal Cashier sought additional information, consulting with the lawyer, Line Manager and Compliance Officer for Finance & Administration. The cashier’s attention to detail, experience and dedication to safeguarding client interests prevented a potential financial disaster for the elderly client and showcasing the importance of a Legal Cashier’s role beyond processing financial transactions. The cashiers vigilance on investigation identified that the client had become involved in a pyramid scheme and a potential fraud was averted.

What Qualifications do Legal Cashiers need?

Legal Cashiers will usually be members of The Institute of Legal Finance & Management (ILFM).  They must have a comprehensive understanding of the SRA Accounts Rules 2019 and accounting requirements specific to solicitors’ firms, which are kept up to date.

The ILFM provide recognised professional qualifications, training, support, and industry-specific information including diplomas, certificates, and associate-level courses covering areas such as bookkeeping, financial compliance, accounting, tax management, and legal practice management.

Any final thoughts?

Legal Cashiers may often go unnoticed however, their contribution to the smooth operation of law firms is invaluable. They ensure compliance with financial regulations, safeguard against fraud, and meticulously managing funds, these professionals play a vital part in maintaining the integrity of the legal profession.

Clients and Advisers of Tivoli Legal can be assured that funds are in safe hands and carefully looked after by every member of the team.

Legal Cashier

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