From cashiers to COFAs – the role of a person within legal finance has changed so much over the past 20 years. Here’s why the profession requires support, training, education and friendly guidance more than ever before.
The ILFM started its life in 1978. We started out as the Institute of Legal Cashiers and Administrators (ILCA), but in 2010 we progressed to what we are today, the Institute of Legal Finance Management (ILFM). The ILFM is a not-for-profit professional organisation founded out of the need for legal cashier and bookkeeper support and guidance, as their roles were (and still can be) often isolated within legal firms. We have grown to become the UK’s leading membership organisation in the legal sector that provides a range of services designed exclusively for legal finance professionals and legal management professionals, such as Legal Cashiers, Accounts Managers, Compliance Officers for Finance & Administration (COFA's) and Practice Managers.
Technology and Cybercrime
Technology and AI develops at an alarming pace throughout the legal sector, and a cashier’s role 30 years ago is totally different than the role it is today. A recent survey of legal cashiers who have been in the same profession for more than 20 years, confirmed that although technology has advanced beyond recognition in those years, the responsibility owing to cyber threats, online banking and money laundering has never been so risky for someone in a legal finance position. The ILFM is tenacious in its capacity to ensure all legal cashiers have support, training and guidance with how to cope with the ever changing world of technology. We want our members to embrace AI with us; we have an incredible team who can advise when new changes are on the horizon, and would urge practice managers and partners to support their legal finance staff too.
[Source: ILFM internal survey February 2019]
Richard Hill, former Chair of the ILFM, and an exceptionally knowledgeable tutor for our Cybercrime Workshops, has over 20 years’ experience working in practice and business management. Richard is a Compliance Officer (COFA) for a legal firm and says,
“Cybercrime and fraud is one of the top risks facing law firms. Every day, fraudsters are finding another route to attack businesses. For law firms, the priority is to keep their client money safe by staying one step ahead of the threats.”
One way of staying ahead, keeping qualified and gaining confidence is by meeting other cashiers in similar positions, talking within the ILFM Forum and attending our leading courses. See what we have on offer here.
SRA Accounts Rules
At one time there were more and more Rules added, but now it is the opposite meaning that legal firms are being held responsible for their own processes and procedures. The Accounts Rules are much less prescriptive than they used to be. This can be a confusing time and as the ILFM is the leading authority in legal finance training and support, we want our members, and non-members alike, to be confident in their knowledge of these new Rules.
Many legal cashiers say that there are so many ‘grey’ areas surrounding the Rules and more often than not, one of their challenges in a legal firm is to work with new accounting systems whilst working alongside the Rules. Getting partners and fee earners to work within these Rules, to follow procedures and processes, can be an uphill battle. The ILFM team understands these frustrations, which is why we always put our answers to questions in writing for our legal cashiers; something tangible to show their colleagues if challenged. Our examinations give legal cashiers the confidence to assert themselves with fee earners and partners, as the knowledge imparted is invaluable.
Owing to the fact that the new Rules require law firms to make their own decisions on protecting client money, the ILFM has various one-day training courses to keep all legal finance professionals up to date. The training has an emphasis on the practical application of the rules and best practice to help law firms to be compliant.
"If you really want to understand the reality of the rules and gain confidence in your role then attend ILFM training".
Accounts Rules Training – click here to find out more.
If you are a legal cashier, or in legal recruitment, or indeed someone who has responsibility for overseeing cashiers in a legal firm, why would you NOT join the ILFM? Not only is it cost effective and affordable, but it gives reassurance and adds value to every legal finance department in the UK. You only have to read our testimonials or have a chat with any existing members to appreciate our worth.
Talk to us now and find out more here.