Judge Spotlight: Paul Coombes

Judge Spotlight: Paul Coombes

Judging awards ceremonies can often be a thankless task. But without the support of the people who spend hours toiling away reviewing the submissions, the awards simply would not happen.

On behalf of Today’s Conveyancer and Headline Sponsor Dye & Durham, we are incredibly grateful to all our judging panel who we are showcasing through this short series of articles in the run up to The British Conveyancing Awards 2022.

If the 2021 ceremony was about recognising all those in the industry who have helped people move home during the most challenging year the conveyancing industry has perhaps ever seen, the focus for the 2022 ceremony is on where the industry is going.

Against a backdrop of a flatter market, increasing on and offline fraud risks, PII, the balance of flexible working and continued digitisation practitioners face new and evolving challenges.

So how do we set about judging an industry which is now looking ahead to what 2022 and beyond brings? It was a question we put to Paul Coombes as they prepare to assess the submissions.

First of all, tell us who you are and what you do.

Paul Coombes. I provide marketing support to law firms, particularly those deal with residential conveyancing.

Why did you choose to support The British Conveyancing Awards (again) in 2022?

David Opie twisted my arm! No, seriously I think the awards are great way to shine a spotlight on the individuals and firms making a difference in the property sector.

What do you think the biggest challenges and opportunities are for conveyancers in 2022 and beyond?

One of the biggest challenges for firms dealing in a higher volume of conveyancing work remains the cost of PII. I’m afraid there’s no easy solution to that one, but firms do need to ensure they are regularly reviewing their pricing and charging for appropriately for additional work that goes beyond the initial quote. This is one thing that panels do well – take a look at their additional charges!

Opportunities wise I think there are many and it depends on how the firm wants to position itself. I’ve seen a rise in demand for a real top end service where price is completely irrelevant, but equally we’ve been tripping over professional referrers who want to be able to generate income from referral fees but also ensure the client is getting a great service.

In your day to day role, what have you seen from law firms that has stood out for you in terms of innovation or adaptation in the “new normal?”

I think the pandemic just sped up some of the things that were already starting to happen – improved onboarding of clients, digital ID, home working. All of these available before but now seem to be a standard feature of more progressive conveyancing firms.

Why do you think firms should enter the British Conveyancing Awards?

It’s great way to generate PR for your firm and for the individual awards to show a real appreciation of that person’s contribution. If you are shortlisted or win the award, it’s a another “trust factor” you can use when dealing with conveyancing quote conversion.

Which of this years categories stand out for you and why?

The boutique firm of the year. In other awards it’s often difficult to see where smaller firms sit and what categories they would stand a chance of winning but this one will be interesting!

What are you looking for in the submissions and what differentiates a winning entry from the rest?

A bit like exams….answer the question! If there are four elements to the category, I need to see how you’ve covered them all off. Secondly if you can give me something tangible, which I appreciate can be difficult, you’re making my job easier.

Thank you to Paul for their support for The British Conveyancing Awards 2022.

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