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Monday, July 09, 2007

What does a conveyancing solicitor do?

09.07.07 What does a Conveyancing Solicitor do? A new series of "What does a lawyer do"
We occasionally run series of articles on this site with a different theme, and this one is all about what different types of law actually mean... at this time of year, we get a lot of calls from would be trainee solicitors hunting for holiday work, vacation placements and training contracts, and most probably have very little idea as to the reality of life as a solicitor in a certain field.

Conveyancing Solicitors - what do they do?
Conveyancing is usually divided into two areas of work in a high street setting - firstly there is residential conveyancing, and secondly there is commercial conveyancing. The difference is exactly that - one is houses for individuals or investors, the other is offices and premises for business or commercial interests.
On the whole, high street firms tend to deal with residential conveyancing and some light commercial work - eg chip shops, post offices, individual shops etc.. Larger companies deal with large developments of both residential and commercial work - eg an out of town shopping complex, or a new housing development of say 400 homes.
A residential conveyancing solicitor has a mainly desk based job. She will spend the majority of her time dealing with clients wanting to instruct her, writing to other parties to request information, be this the local authority, the Land Registry, the other side's solicitors etc.. Quite a lot of the work is done online now, which makes life a lot easier for computer literate lawyers, and hell for those not quite there yet!
There is very little to deal with out of the ordinary unless dealing with instructions from the landed gentry, farmers, and anyone with a slightly older title, as most of the work is now covered by the records kept at the Land Registry. I have heard it said many times of the years that this is a dying area of law for solicitors, but it just seems to keep going - it is so complex that solicitors are almost always needed in every office, and even the bigger volume conveyancing operations get a major headache dealing with some sales and purchases and have specialist solicitors to deal with problem matters.

Solicitors can have up to 70-80 cases ongoing at any time, and the work can be stressful in a different way - there is usually a lot of pressure on lawyers to keep the fees coming in, and move as fast as possible with clients, and the clients are constantly on the phone asking what is going on with their case. Everyone blames the solicitor for any delays, and usually the solicitor is unable to defend herself!

Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - no.1 online legal recruitment agency - save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us!

1 comment:

Conveyancing quote guy said...

If you're a conveyancing solicitor and you want to build your client base then here are some best practices that will reassure your potential clients and increase recommendations:

1. Offer a "fixed fee" service. In other words you pay what's on the quote and not a penny more.

2. The quote has to be "complete". It must include all expenses, search costs, registration fees and VAT.

There are too many dodgy solicitors who offer "cheap as chips" quotes that sucker people in ... until they get the final bill, which is for hundreds more than they expected.

3. Offer "no completion - no fee" quotes (becoming widespread in the UK).

This way if the transaction falls through your client doesn't pay the legal fees (though they'll still have to pay any expenses that have already been incurred on their behalf).

4. Finally, advertise the fact that you're a conveyancing specialist (or have a specialist conveyancing department).

This may sound "so obvious", but it's worth mentioning because if you do get a solicitor who rarely does conveyancing work (because they're also doing wills and probate and divorce and ...) then a) it'll take them longer and b) they're more likely to make a mistake. Not good.

Hope that's useful for you - if you can be the solicitor who ticks those four boxes you should do ok!