Cyber conveyancer

Confessions of a cyber conveyancer

It’s tough being a thorn in people’s sides.

I bleat on about using the latest technology while traditional lawyers disagree with me; “We don’t need technology” they cry, “we need better lawyers”. I tell them to take a long hard look in the mirror and realise that they must adapt to change.

I then go about my day with the smug satisfaction that we would always be ahead of the technology curve. Heaven forbid that we would not make decisions and adapt to change.

Physician heal thyself

So here’s the thing. We work with InfoTrack who, in our opinion, changed the way that lawyers access data. Without them, we’d still be getting our searches by email and doing our SDLT submissions through HMRC’s website.

Only we didn’t use them for title documents. We’d looked at their offering a few years ago and our legal assistants told us it was slower than going to the HMLR website. The system worked so there was no need to change. And we didn’t. And nothing broke.

Except that, after a couple of mistakes misreading titles and leases (yes, we’ve all been there), we knew we had to stop manually keying title data. We’d experienced similar issues a few years ago with clients’ bank account information and had eliminated the problem by making them enter their account details onto our system themselves.

The point is, we’d had these problems with titles for years, but had done nothing about it. We knew InfoTrack could pass data directly into our case management system which would eliminate the mistakes, but we stuck with the HMLR website. The question is: why?

It’s the same as everyone else

The reason why we didn’t change, even though there were compelling reasons to do so, was that we had not prioritised this change. We’d seen the alternative, hadn’t liked it, and therefore stuck with what we knew. Which is exactly what we see in other law firms when it comes to technology in general. Yes – the same firms I accused of not adopting change – and here we were making the same mistakes.

The point is, it’s too easy to make a non-decision, and this was exactly what we were doing. It wasn’t until our account manager at InfoTrack told us it had been four years since we saw their title offering and we should take a look. So last week we did.

The legal assistants loved the way that ordering could be done and that the documents came back instantly – just like HMLR. Oh, and with all the referred documents as well – which HMLR didn’t do. The investigation took about five hours in total. Two days later, we rolled out the new ordering process to the entire company.

The million dollar question

The benefits to our business of having access to title data cannot be underestimated. Not only can the information can be included accurately and automatically in our contracts, but we can also validate our client’s names and any mortgage details. We can spot anomalies instantly and ensure that the quality of our contract packs will improve immeasurably.

So why didn’t we do it sooner?

Simply, because we were not ready to make the change and this is a sobering lesson for all business owners when it comes to technology adoption. We had been using the same process for the last three years and wasted thousands of hours downloading titles and manually keying the information into our case management system.

Now, after exerting a bit of focus and actually making the decision, we will save significant amounts of time and reduce risk on a massive scale. This was a clear wake-up call; no matter how well you think you are doing, you need to review everything you do – constantly. Otherwise, you’ll waste hours of your colleagues’ lives doing tedious administrative tasks that could be done quicker and better by technology.

Peter Ambrose is the owner and Managing Director of The Partnership – a boutique legal provider specialising in the delivery of transparent and ultra-efficient conveyancing services.

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