Staff Manual | Finance & Accounting
All law firms operate two main bank accounts, and two sets of accounting systems.
The first is the office account. This is the ordinary business account and is the firm’s own money. This is where we receive payment of invoices from clients, and make our standard payments (for instance, rent, your wages, phone bills, etc.)
If we have sent out an invoice to a client, their payment goes to the Office account.
The second is the trust account. This is an account where we are holding funds on trust (i.e. taking care of the funds) for our clients. We do not own the funds in this account.
If we have not sent out an account, or if the payment exceeds the invoice, the funds go to the Trust account. Clients may also be asked to pay “security for costs” – a payment that goes against their later invoices. These also go to Trust.
Trust funds are highly regulated and subject to monthly and annual audits. After all – they are not our funds, but simply funds we are taking care of. Removal of funds from a trust account without correct processes or authorisation is theft, and if performed by a solicitor, grounds for them to be removed from the legal profession permanently. In terms of administrative staff, past occasions where people have removed funds improperly have resulted in jail sentences.
In terms of your duties with Petersen Legal:
Receipts in to either account need to be immediately entered on to the Accounting system in LEAP, and the client provided with a receipt (either hard copy printed, or by email.) If payment is made in cash, the funds should then be given to Joseph, or the delegated Accounts Clerk.
No payment or transfer between either account should ever occur. Due to the requirements around this, these must be left to the Principal of the firm. If you need payment to go for a bill (such as a police disclosure fee, records fee, etc.) they need to be directed to Joseph or the delegated Accounts Clerk.
Transfers of money between files are subject to extremely strict regulation. Signed permission from a client and signed permission by Joseph is required before this can occur.
Payment Methods: We can accept cash, cheque, EFT transfer or credit card to the office account. We cannot accept credit card to the trust account due to Tasmanian regulations. If a client wants to pay in to the trust account by card, they will need to be told that we cannot do this, and select one of the other methods.
A few parts of the invoicing window in LEAP that are less obvious:
When an invoice is drawn, prepare the properly laid-out invoice by selecting the Word Bill function. Then select PL Invoice, which includes our firm details and layout. This will then save the formatted invoice to the Correspondence tab.
Invoices have three status descriptions:
Leave the status as this once you have prepared the initial invoice and Word Bill.
The solicitor with carriage has seen this account and approved it to be sent.
The boss has authorised this account to be sent. To get this authorisation, email with the subject line “File No XX-XXXX: Invoice for approval”
With the exception of Legal Aid invoices, no account should be sent to a client unless the boss has authorised it as “final”.