Every law firm will have compliance on their agenda.
Top of the list will be compliance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Handbook of course, but in addition there may be requirements from other bodies such as HM Revenue & Customs, the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) and LEXCEL amongst others.
There are many areas where Insight Legal can assist with compliance, whether that be from an accounts or practice management perspective – or both.
From an accounting perspective, Insight Legal provides standard checks and warnings when completing a financial posting to ensure that your client ledgers are never in debit and your office ledgers never in credit. There is a full and detailed VAT return to provide up to date information on your inputs and outputs, as well as helping you to record all payments and maintain an accurate liability. There are reports to monitor residual balances and also to monitor movement between your firm’s bank accounts.
COLP & COFA
If you are the COLP or the COFA in your practice (in the case of a small firm, you might be both of course) then cash management and the financial operations of the practice will be at the forefront of your mind.
The COLP and COFA are likely to be the champions of risk management within the firm, and whilst not solely responsible for compliance, you have a key role in ensuring that suitable systems and controls are in place. The SRA Accounts Rules 2011 (under rule 6) requires that all the principals in a firm (and that includes the COFA) must ensure compliance with the rules by every employee.
For the COLP with case work or the COFA with the finance aspects, you cannot be expected to stand over every member of staff and watch everything that they do, so it is essential that you have the appropriate accounting systems and internal reporting structures in place to monitor, review and manage the risks and to aid compliance.
As the COFA of the practice, you may already be part of the finance team. You may, therefore, already be familiar with the day to day workings of your Legal Accounts and Practice Management system and the reporting available to you. You may be a partner or manager within the firm who is used to being presented with financial summary reports at the end of each month. Whatever your involvement, you should not simply rely on your accounts staff to tell you every time a breach occurs. You are going to have to do your own checks as well.
All firms should consider where your accounting systems and procedures can help you in the role – because all systems definitely should and Insight Legal certainly can.
Insight Legal provides many tools and reports to assist the COLP and COFA in their roles, from reports to identify residual balances, to ones which prove that there are no ledgers with client account in debit or office account in credit. From in-built conflict checks when you add clients or matters to bank reconciliation reports which highlight all unpresented items.