The Law Society conduct monitoring visits of solicitors firms. The Law Society implemented these visits to help ensure solicitors are complying with the Regulations and to ensure adequate controls and systems are in place within the firms.
Our firm has assisted in many inspections. We help to ensure adequate and necessary procedures and controls are in place.
If a firm has been notified of an inspection by the Law Society and they are unsure whether their accounting records comply with the Regulations, our firm can review the accounting records and procedures in place. We will make recommendations to the firm in relation to compliance and highlight any issues which may arisen.
Law Society inspection – what to expect!
- The investigating accountant will have an initial meeting with the principal/compliance partners. The investigating accountant will complete a questionnaire. This initial meeting will take approximately an hour. They will request a list of documentation/information which will include the following:-
- A list of all staff including their roles and responsibilities.
- A current bank account register which details the bank accounts held within the Practice.
- A copy of the professional indemnity insurance.
- Copies of the practicing certificates.
- Confirmation of any Revenue liabilities.
The inspection letter from the Law Society will confirm to what date the inspection will be completed. The firm will be required to ensure all the accounting records have been recorded to include all accounting transactions to that date. All bank account reconciliations must be completed to this date. We will attend the Law Society inspection with the solicitor if requested.
- The investigating accountant will pick client files to review. They will check the files to ensure the documentation is maintained on file as required by the Regulations.
- They will investigate any client debit balances i.e., the client account is overdrawn.
- They will investigate any office credit balances i.e., monies have been incorrectly transferred from the client account to the office account.
- They will investigate any unusual transactions which have been highlighted by their checks.
- They will review the firms Section 68 procedures.
- The investigating accountant will concentrate on the firm’s Anti-Money Laundering procedures. The firm must ensure they have sufficient procedures in place and be fully aware of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations. Risk assessment forms are recommended to be completed and maintained on file for each client.
- They will review the firm’s deposit interest treatment.
- They will review the firms dormant accounts, if any. The firm should not hold onto client monies in the client bank account for longer than three months.
- The firm is required to have a suitable accounting package tailored for solicitors.
- This is not an exhaustive list.
A Law Society inspection is quite onerous on the firm. Our aim is to alleviate the pressure of the inspection on the solicitors.
We would suggest having sufficient procedures in place so any impending Law Society inspection, although onerous, will not create any issues for the Practice.