Diary of a high street conveyancer: 20th February 2023

I was going to write about the different types of names, titles, and job descriptions given to those who practise conveyancing – this week I have collated a list which ranges from conveyancing executive to my favourite, as told to me by a partner in a nearby firm: trainee specialist.

That last one raises all manner of questions – how does the trainee know when he or she is a specialist? Is it a specialist in all areas of conveyancing (which would take years) or just one area? The point about which I was going to write is that how does the client know who is the best person to represent them? If they are shopping around and hear all the prices quoted, do they take into account the experience and position of the person who will be acting for them or are they just making a decision based solely on price? And does the client appreciate that the experience of the conveyancer representing them may in fact be based on price?

But that discussion needs to wait for another week, because a separate post on LinkedIn caught my attention and it hit a nerve with me.

Now, call me old fashioned, but surely I am not alone in thinking that there are times in a transaction when it would be better to talk with the other party’s conveyancer rather than just relying on email communications?

It is becoming more the case that the only time you actually talk to the other conveyancer is on exchange of contracts, and that may in fact be the only time you talk with him or her throughout the entire transaction. Why?

I like chatting with the other conveyancer – frequently, it is someone I have got to know over the years and we have a catch up about work and reassure each other that we are not in this alone. Or, it may be someone new to the area and I know we will be working together in the future, so it would be good to get to know each other. Then there are the times when we hit a bump in the process and I know that the best way of resolving this would be to pick up the phone and chat with the other conveyancer and see how best to proceed.

Yet so many times it seems that I call a firm and can’t speak with the other conveyancer; I am told to put my point/ query in an email. It would be so much easier to talk it through and agree a way forward without numerous emails going backwards and forwards, some of which may be copied into the estate agent and client and a situation which could be resolved in a phone call gets blown up out of all proportion.

There are some firms where you can never speak with anyone – I have had transactions where there is no phone number on the email footer and there seems to be no way of contacting them to discuss the position.

I was taught to have a conversation with the other lawyer, make meticulous attendance notes of what was said, and discuss the way forwards. This seems to be getting more and more rare and there is the tendency to hide behind emails. I would be the first to say that emails are useful in that they are a contemporaneous record of what is happening, but let’s talk to each other on those occasions when it is needed. It helps the client and it will get the transaction moving.

This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.

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