Judge Spotlight: Sally Holdway

Judge Spotlight: Sally Holdway

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 Sally Holdway as they prepare to assess the submissions.

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

I’m Sally Holdway, founder of Teal Legal, a technology and data analytics business which focuses on supporting the conveyancing sector, but my background is as a conveyancing solicitor, having worked for many years at the coalface in both high street, and larger volume firms. I now spend my days working on tech projects across the conveyancing and home moving sector which all support the overarching objective of helping to improve the process of moving house.

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

I think the great thing about the British Conveyancing Awards is that it really gets under the skin of the sector and looks to celebrate and reward the companies and individuals who are passionate about making a difference for their clients. For me, this means looking beyond the traditional measures. Sometimes, categories in awards ceremonies can be a bit dry, and dare I say it, “samey”, but that’s certainly not the case with the British Conveyancing Awards. Categories such as Climate Change Ambassador of the Year and Innovation in Marketing and Social Strategy really reflect how, as an industry we are evolving, to reflect the changing priorities of our clients.

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

So far as opportunities are concerned I think one of the key trends we have seen over the last couple of years is the rise and rise of collaboration projects across the sector. Covid restrictions have meant we have all had to get more creative and work together much closer to be able to come up with solutions to numerous challenges to practise we have faced. And this is where we are seeing real progress being made, by firms who are continuing to run with the “collaboration baton” post lockdowns. I am lucky enough to be involved with some of these super interesting projects where bold ambitions to improve the consumer experience of moving house are starting to come to life.

So far as challenges are concerned, I think we have seen conveyancers take a real battering over the last year or so. In a survey we ran last year, half of all the conveyancers who responded were looking to leave the profession, so we see a real urgent need to be focussing on how we can help burned out conveyancers recover. We think new working practices coupled with technology could be the key to help prevent it happening again.

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”?

The biggest change to the new normal we all had to contend with was the pretty much instant adoption of remote working which came with the first lockdown, which turned all law firms into “virtual” law firms overnight. There were huge logistical and compliance hurdles to overcome to achieve this, and it was incredible to see how the conveyancing sector rose so quickly to the challenge.

Aside from the obvious difficulties, I think this particular “new normal” has resulted presented conveyancing firms with all sorts of interesting opportunities. Whereas in the past it could be tricky for conveyancers to find the time to trial and test new working practices, we have all had that direct, hands on experience over the last 24 months, and we already know what works well and what doesn’t. Now the lockdown dust is settling somewhat, we are now seeing firms engaging in strategic projects to develop out the things that worked well, to further modernise their practices.

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

Isn’t it a great opportunity to take a step back and reflect on all the amazing hard work and resilience which the conveyancing sector has demonstrated over the last year, and to celebrate and recognise those achievements, peer to peer?  And of course the opportunity for us all to get together in March to celebrate in style is also a big tick!

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

I guess I would say it wouldn’t I, but the innovation and collaboration focussed categories are of particular interest to me. I think it’s these areas which we have really seen blossom over the last year or two, and I am incredibly excited to find out more about what’s being achieved.

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

I think in particular I am looking for entries which demonstrate creativity, which highlight people or projects who have come up with new and interesting approaches to traditional conveyancing problems.

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

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