Law Firm Finance & Administration Handbook – A Practical Guide for COFAs and Finance Professionals

ARE YOU a law firm partner, finance director or practice manager that has assumed the role of COFA and need to keep up to speed with law firm accounting rules and procedures?

The Law Firm Finance and Administration Handbook – A Practical Guide for COFAs and Finance Professionals, provides an accountant’s perspective on the role of the COFA. Step-by-step guidance on understanding balance sheets and profit and loss accounts will enable you to understand what normal performance looks like compared to poor or bad financial performance.

With more than 100 ‘Outcomes’ to be complied with in the Code of Conduct alone, the potential for firms to get it wrong is huge. The report covers all of the key compliance areas to keep your house in order: Accounts Rules and governance; conflicts; risk planning, anti-money laundering; client care requirements; and much more…

Report structure

Chapter 1 - Introduction to the SRA Accounts Rules

  • Overview of the accounting requirements
    • SRA Accounts Rules: What's new?
    • An overview of the changes
  • Review of accounting procedures
  • Clients money definition and examples
  • What is a client bank account?
  • How to handle costs and disbursements
  • Withdrawals from client account
  • Legal aid
  • Interest rules that apply to clients’ money
  • Accountancy reports and waivers
  • SRA monitoring and enforcement
  • Fee-earners’ responsibilities

Chapter 2 - Overview of the SRA Handbook

  • Outcomes focused regulation - Introduction
  • The role of the COFA 
  • SRA Accounts Rules: Overview of the changes
  • The New SRA Code of Conduct
    • Client care code and letters
    • Conflict of interest rules 
    • Client confidentiality and disclosure
    • Management of your business
    • Publicity rules
    • Referral fees and fee Sharing
    • Equality and diversity
  • SRA - Strategic Plan 2013-15
  • SRA - Regulatory Risk Framework

Chapter 3 – The role of the COFA

  • Overview of role
  • Understanding bank reconciliations
    • What is a bank reconciliation?
    • Importance of bank reconciliations (both client and office)
    • How to audit a bank reconciliation
    • How problems can be disguised through the bank reconciliation
  • SRA Accounts Rules: Common Problem Areas
    • Debit balances
    • Residual client ledger balances
    • Office credit balances
    • Unpaid professional disbursements
    • Accounting to clients for interest due on clients' money
    • Commission and other financial benefits
  • Creating a compliance audit trail

Chapter 4 - The Money Laundering Process

  • Overview and definition of money laundering
    • The money laundering process
    • Case study examples
  • Outline of the Legal Framework
    • Financial Action Task Force
    • European Directives - Proposal for a fourth money laundering directive
    • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
    • Terrorism Act 2000
    • Money Laundering Regulations 2007
  • Money Laundering/Terrorism Offences
    • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
    • Terrorism Act 2000
    • Obligations in relation to money laundering and terrorist financing suspicions
  • Money Laundering Regulations 2007
    • Services to which they apply
    • Customer due diligence requirements
    • Due diligence requirements in practice
    • Beneficial owners
    • Timing of due diligence
    • Renewing due diligence
    • Ongoing monitoring requirements
  • Legal Client Privilege - Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing
    • Exemptions
    • Procedures for dealing with politically exposed persons
    • The FATF 40 Recommendations and the Third Directive
    • Reporting obligations outside the UK regulated sector
  • The Role of SOCA
    • Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR's) - How to identify the early warning signs of suspicious client activity
    • SARs - Top tips for effective reporting
    • Seeking Consent
    • SOCA Guidance and Intelligence
  • Enforcement
    • Role of the SRA
    • Powers under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007

Chapter 5 – Client Care

  • Client care requirements of the SRA Code of Conduct
  • Client care letters
  • Complaints management and handling procedures
  • Cost information to clients
  • The role of the Legal Ombudsman
  • How to avoid the most common regulatory breaches

Publication date:
November 2013




Buy this report
£295 (£9.50 p&p)