respect concept

Conveyancing ‘must start commanding the respect it deserves’

National Conveyancing Week provided a key opportunity to reflect on the state of the conveyancing industry – celebrating achievements, while assessing the challenges it is facing.

First, let’s remember that 1.2m housing transactions completed in the UK during 2022, 1.4m the year before that.

Behind every transaction was a conveyancer helping to guide homebuyers and sellers through what is a high-risk and in-depth legal process that can require comprehensive knowledge of planning legislation, complex titles, court orders, tenancy agreements, trusts, rent charges, HMRC rules, and leasehold reform – before even considering client matter risk management and source of funds.

NCW brought this work into sharp focus, with many conveyancers sharing their experiences and detailing how they are increasingly fulfilling more legal obligations. This is in contrast to how society is evolving, prioritising simplicity and speed, with a “delivery now” expectation.

Though the initiative has shown how technology is aiding factors such as improving administrative efficiency, it is clear that for the time being, conveyancing remains a people-led process.

That is one of the reasons why we created a video to mark the Week, which was centred around recruitment and the importance of attracting new talent into the profession. It featured apprentices, school-leavers, qualified solicitors, as well as a non-lawyer that had succeeded to become partner – revealing that there is no one single route into conveyancing or building a career in the industry.

Speaking in the video, Connor O’Dell recounted his journey from building sites and working in a bank, to progressing to the role of conveyancing manager, highlighting that:

“The true ability to be a good conveyancer will prevail over what sort of background or route you’ve taken to get into conveyancing.”

It is a powerful message, and one that must continue to be put forward as the industry looks to cultivate a new generation of expert conveyancers and support staff that play an equally critical role.

Education is also key. The efforts to demystify conveyancing must not stop with National Conveyancing Week. Rather, the onus is on us to keep explaining the conveyancing process, what is involved and why the industry is essential to managing risk for the client, the lender and even itself.

It is imperative that different conveyancing firms and intermediaries also support each other in these efforts – understanding that now is a moment for unity and collaboration to improve processes.

The need to work together does not, however, only apply to raising external industry awareness. Discussing issues and collaborating on finding solutions can also help to get deals done.

The Land Registry, search providers and lenders can support this process by looking at how they present information in a paperless world, for example. The Solicitors Regulation Authority and Council for Licensed Conveyancers should also keep reviewing how to best support firms in embracing further standardisation and training to achieve the high standards they expect.

By working together in this way and sharing expertise, while also embracing and supporting technology providers that are keen to help the industry through process change and delivery of efficiencies, the sector can overcome challenges.

It is also critical to upskill our teams and raise the bar when it comes to staff training and supervision.

This could not have been put forward more clearly than by colleague and associate, Nitu Patel, highlighting in our video: “The team that we work with is what delivers the results.”

Conveyancers do deliver results – on a daily, hourly, and minute-by-minute basis, as we help clients navigate one of the most important events that they will go through in their lives.

It is for this reason alone that conveyancing must, and will, start commanding the respect it truly deserves.

Suman Dally is a partner and head of conveyancing at Shoosmiths

4 Responses

  1. Just the title alludes to the problem conveyancing has with its attitude.

    Did your elders never inform & educate you that respect is something you earn. Not something you ‘command’.

    You just don’t get it………

    Another wonderpus display of conlgnitive dissonance from the sector devoid of empathy.

    ‘COMMAND’ !

  2. Sadly, conveyancing, or at least the professionals involved in it, do largely get the respect they deserve. I have it up after 35 years of it. It is a deeply unpleasant, soul destroyingly, awful job. Whilst I am sure there are many good practitioners out there, there are a lot who are not. I started in 1970 when it was a properly remunerated branch of law but it has become a highly pressured (largely due to poor customer relations and managing expectations), horrible admin. exercise. Any attempt at trying to resolve a problem properly is met with a barrage of abuse.

  3. Perhaps the ‘profession’ should stop unqualified youngsters, who have never bought or run a home, from running rampant with homemover’s files, and only allow qualified conveyancers with “comprehensive knowledge of planning legislation, complex titles, court orders, tenancy agreements, trusts, rent charges, HMRC rules, and leasehold reform” to raise enquiries and manage files. Too often I see lawyers complaining about enquiries from other brainless lawyers.

    1. Ah, yes. Lawyers blaming lawyers! This battle serves no one any purpose. There are so many aspects to this whole question of practitioners.

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