What is legal cashiering, why do law firms hire cashiers, and should it be your next career move? - Quill

What is legal cashiering, why do law firms hire cashiers, and should it be your next career move?

19/05/21

What does a legal cashier do and why do law firms need one?

A legal cashier has the vital responsibility of handling all the finances of a solicitor’s practice or law firm. The term ‘legal cashier’ is in common use in England and Wales, however, descriptions such as legal accountant, financial controller, or legal accounts manager are also variously used.

All law firms require a legal cashiering function in order to comply with complicated accounting regulations such as the SRA Accounts Rules.

Whilst some will decide to employ their own cashier in-house, others find it easier and more economical to turn to outsourcing it to a reliable bureau like Quill’s.

Either way, with almost 152k practising solicitors within 11k law firms in England and Wales, demand for experienced legal cashiers is high, pay is good and cashiers themselves perform a key back-office function at every law firm in existence.

We caught up with Corrine Blake, Quill’s HR Manager, to discuss why legal cashiering is a great career choice for those considering the field of bookkeeping and accounting, and what law practices are looking for when hiring a legal cashier.

Read on to learn more…

What is a legal cashier?

Legal cashiers are qualified bookkeepers for the legal sector who manage law firms’ finance accounts in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules, CLC Accounts Code or Scottish Accounts Rules, depending upon the practice in question’s specialisms and location. At the same time, legal cashiers must adhere to all the usual regulations which apply to all forms of accounting – including HMRC’s MTD for VAT legislation and the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

Here are some of the responsibilities of a legal cashier:

  • Process accounting transactions, both payments received and sent, by bank transfer, cheque or other means
  • Perform bank reconciliations so that bank accounts and books tally up
  • Produce daily, weekly and monthly reports on the financial status
  • Check for errors and report any account breaches
  • Invoice clients for work done and chase overdue monies
  • Submit quarterly and year-end VAT returns via HMRC’s MTD portal
  • Maintain separate client and office ledgers
  • Ensure compliance with relevant rules and regulations
  • Liaise with compliance officers, clients, auditors, regulators, suppliers and banking providers

Why is legal cashiering in such high demand?

To put it plainly – it’s a niche role with a limited pool of qualified candidates. Plus, legal cashiering is deeply embedded in the practise of law and it’s definitely not going anywhere. Currently, the demand for legal cashiers outweighs supply. Cashiers play an incredibly important role in the smooth running of any legal practice and they are the number one numbers cruncher. Truly, a quality legal cashier is worth their weight in gold, and will save partners at firms hours of frustration and minimise the risk of costly mistakes happening.

What skills are most desirable as a legal cashier?

Along with having cashiering experience, those who excel in this role are multi-taskers and team players who can work under pressure and have an interest in accounts with an eye for detail. Whilst new recruits can learn a lot on the job, the onus is on the legal cashier to ensure compliance for the law firm and earn the trust of the partners that their financials are being handled properly.

Fundamentals that a legal cashier needs to know include:

  • Double entry bookkeeping
  • Client and office accounts
  • SRA Accounts Rules
  • Banking
  • Legal accounts software
  • Annual audits and inspections
  • VAT returns

With such weighty responsibilities, every legal cashier must be properly trained and go through ongoing professional development courses. All of our legal cashiers at Quill, for instance, are active members with the Institute of Legal Finance and Management (ILFM) and have regular access to continued professional development and events, networking opportunities, and important updates via resources and forums. All of this ensures a legal cashier feels empowered and up to date with his or her legal finance knowledge.

Should you go in-house or work for a bureau?

There are two environments a legal cashier can work within – either in-house within a legal practice or for a legal cashiering bureau like Quill’s.  Here are some pros and cons:

 

Inhouse – Pros

Inhouse – Cons

Some job security – this niche role that not everyone can do within a dedicated business offers a level of protection. Lack of stability – you could be an additional headcount that’s at risk of losing your position if the business becomes volatile.
Dedicated role – focused attention on legal accounts on a full-time basis for a single business. Lack of job satisfaction – your tasks are the same day in, day out with little in the way of variety to excite your interest.
Autonomy – a role with structured responsibilities and the same daily tasks tried and tested by you. Lack of support – you’ll likely be on your own, which can be lonely, repetitive and demanding. There may not be anyone to act as a mentor, escalate issues to, seek clarification from or share ideas with.
Take full credit – it’s you and you alone working on tasks with nobody else to share the crown. Your practice’s partners can truly recognise your abilities. Minimal benefits and cover – benefits may be basic and cover whilst absent for holidays difficult to arrange. Plus, some practices assign their legal cashiers the task of managing offices and HR so the pressure is on.
Your own boss – the ability to work independently, and create your own system and procedures, including accounting software selection, that suit your ideal way of working. Lack of technical know-how – you may struggle to implement a process that is followed properly by all staff and may need to also act as an IT staff member by rolling out appropriate accounting software and training colleagues on how to use it practice-wide.
Sidestepping – ability to extend or move your legal cashiering career into more business-oriented roles. Lack of career progression – some legal cashiers may find that progression is limited by an employer’s internal structure, organisational hierarchy and/or company size.
Becoming a problem-solving expert – all problems are resolved and tasks completed by you giving you pride in your work. Stress levels are high – operating alone means taking on all the work by yourself without delegation.

 

 

 

 

In comparison, here’s what you need to consider before joining a legal cashiering bureau like Quill’s:

Outsourced bureau – Pros

Outsourced bureau – Cons

Job security – you’re allocated multiple client sites and aren’t dependent upon any single one of these to protect your job. Managing multiple relationships – you’ll have to enjoy the diversity of working with more than one client and building close partnerships with them.
Job satisfaction – the diversity of managing several clients means that no two days are ever the same. Busyness – work can fluctuate so you must enjoy the challenges this presents.
Team focused approach – as a member of Quill’s 50-strong cashiering team, for instance, your leader and peers act as your mentor, escalation point, support network and sounding board. Only as good as your team – you’ll be reliant on others to support you and clients to be responsive to your requests in order to get work completed.
Deputy back up – each cashier has an assigned deputy so if you’re off work, your deputy simply picks up where you left off and cover is not a concern. Quill also offer competitive benefits such as private medical insurance, company bonuses, remote working and 20+ days of holiday. You’re solely a legal cashier – you’ll manage clients’ accounts only, not additional duties such as office management and HR. If you like these business functions, you may prefer in-house.
Proven processes – using the Quill legal accounting software, clients log transactions using the e-chits feature for processing by our cashiers. Our software is a common platform with a plethora of management information intelligence and everything’s done to established methods. Fixed methodology – whilst you can adapt your own practices to fit client preferences, to a degree there is a tried-and-true process that must be followed.
Enhanced career pathway – as well as clear opportunities to progress up the ranks, Quill funds your external training and pays for ongoing professional membership subscriptions. Enhanced supervision– you’re regularly in touch with your manager and have annual appraisals. Some individuals don’t like this level of involvement.
Stress levels are low – as part of a team, you receive support and advice from others, which ultimately speeds things up and diminishes workplace anxiety. Multi-tasking is challenging – there’s no denying that juggling work for a number of clients can be tricky.

 

Why choose Quill as your employer?

As a legal cashier, there is no better home to work in than our Manchester and Leeds based offices. Here’s why we have a tight-knit group of 50 legal cashiers who love working at Quill:

  • Best Companies status – not only are we 2-star certified by Best Companies in 2021, we’ve also been named on its ‘The UK’s 100 Best Mid-sized Companies to work for 2021’, ‘The North West’s 100 Best Companies to Work for 2021’ and ‘Technology’s 50 Best Companies to Work for 2021’ lists.
  • Attractive remuneration package – salaries are benchmarked against competency scales so everyone is paid fairly for the work they undertake, and there’s an annual bonus, birthday award and contributory pension too.
  • Nice workplace – dress casually, enjoy free refreshments, interact with friendly peers and option to work from home (hybrid model).
  • Generous perks, including holidays with buy-back options, healthcare scheme with cashback towards medical expenses, and active social committee with paid-for nights out. Our CSR commitment has earned ‘Employer of the Year’ accolade at the annual MS Society Awards and our focus this year is supporting Mind and mental health.

Why choose Quill to outsource your legal cashiering?

Lower your overhead spend while remaining fully compliant with your legal accounts. Quill’s legal cashiering is a flexible, friendly and scalable solution that saves time and lets firms focus on fee-earning activities.

You can rely on our outsourced legal cashiers to manage all the time-intensive data entry, compliant-centric reconciliation and accounting tasks that keep your business running. Plus, you can take the stress out of running your legal accounts with experienced legal cashiers that are fully compliant with all the latest regulatory rules, without incurring additional headcount.

Spotlight on Quill cashier, Zakkiya Bobat

Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what newbie, Zakkiya, has to say about joining Quill:

“When I first arrived at Quill, I started off with the basics, simply to get familiar with the system. Four weeks in, I now have four of my own sites. Tasks on a typical day entail ensuring all client ledgers are up to date as per e-chits submitted, liaising with clients on various issues, updating clients on their current financial status, completing bank recs and subsequently dealing with any issues that arise.

“I hail from a background of working as an in-house legal cashier, however, over the years I’ve noticed the massive change within the legal sector and the volatility within firms, especially smaller practices. As a result, my role was ever-changing and didn’t only comprise legal cashiering, but office management and HR too. Whilst I did enjoy these aspects, I wanted a purely legal cashiering job and Quill matched the criteria perfectly.

“I’d heard of Quill and all my research showed the company in a positive light. Quill’s ethos is the same as my own.

“Without doubt, I love the people first and foremost! I was petrified when I started, especially bearing in mind the current working-from-home arrangements, as I thought I’d find it hard to ‘fit in’ and adapt. However, everyone has been fabulous, patient and helpful. The systems are great and the software user friendly so my initial worries about struggling with new software has gone. Lastly, and most importantly, the actual role itself is exactly what I was looking for. I’m slowly building up my site list and I’m learning new things every day!”

Come on board!

With live vacancies for legal cashiers based from our Manchester or Liverpool offices, what are you waiting for? Take a closer look and apply by visiting our careers page for the latest vacancies.

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