I enjoyed watching the last two series of The Split on BBC1; so much so that I have binge watched the last two series and the latest series over the Easter weekend. Hooray for iPlayer!! And for those of us solicitors who have been watching it , no doubt we have been channelling our inner Hannah Stern and Christie Carmichael. The glamour of law… takes me back to LA Law in the 1990s.
The kudos of having an office with a corner window; the lack of paper on the desk; only a few selected clients; no secretaries or filing cabinets heaving with files; no clients screaming down the telephone; no agents demanding exchanges of contracts in an unrealistic time frame.
Time for lunch, time to spend at the coffee station and have a chat with colleagues, time to have an affair…am I alone in thinking that this is a world that is alien to most conveyancing firms or is it just the case that having been a high street conveyancing solicitor for over thirty years, I have missed out on how the City firms work?
I do remember going to a City centre firm some years ago for a meeting and coughing in the reception area. I was offered a glass of water which I gratefully accepted and was speechless when I was presented with a bottle of water, monogrammed with the firm’s logo and a crystal glass. My clients are lucky if there isn’t a chip in the mug!
Is it the case that had I chosen a different area of specialism that I would have a more glamourous life? Are conveyancing solicitors always to be deemed lower than other solicitors? Is it because we don’t charge by the hour so lose track of our worth? Is it because the work we do has been down-valued over the years so that we end up charging so much less than estate agents? Is it because clients do not appreciate what we are doing (buying the most expensive asset they will ever own)? Is it because we do not blow our own trumpets and tell people how good we are at what we do?
With all of this in mind, I am thinking about pitching an idea for a series to the BBC. “The Move.” It focuses on a high street conveyancing practice and shows the other side. There will be shots of filing cabinets, not large enough to house the files; there will be secretaries running around looking for files; there will be solicitors taking verbal abuse from clients… there will be no long lunches, just a sandwich at the desk, scoffed while checking emails. There will no fancy briefcases, just a rucksack large enough to carry a laptop and files. There will be solicitors and their staff working long hours for little reward.
I will let you have the opening to the first episode next week…
This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.