With this week's stamp duty reforms that saw big deals pushed through at the last minute as well as the announcement of the best practice guide for conveyancers from the Conveyancing Association, now seemed like the perfect time to explore what it is that makes a good conveyancer in the modern market.
Many conveyancers would assume that estate agents would answer this question by saying, one that can achieve a quick exchange without asking many, if any, questions and one that pays us on time.
However, the conveyancer's responses are much more detailed:
One that is approachable; understands the law and risks involved; can remember what their role is i.e. to protect their client and act in their best interest; can offer and deliver a quality service as standard.
And one that knows and can adhere to the 10 SRA Code of Conduct principles:
Uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice
Act with integrity
Not allow your independence to be compromised
Act in the best interests of each client
Provide a proper standard of service to your clients
Behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services
Comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner
Run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles
Run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity
Protect client money and assets
Another response is:
To be super human'! We have to have a 100% eye for detail, be fully computer literate, warm hearted, calm under pressure, clever, quick to adapt, un-phaseable, able to think on our feet, patient, kind, generous and optimistic. We also need to be able to see into the future to anticipate what a client, lender, agent other side, regulator (usually their own but also everyone else's), the government and even removal men are likely to say want or do and then be expected to get everyone to agree to that at the last minute with no grief whatsoever so that clients can move on a date that we probably have not been told about anyway!
More seriously though, the best conveyancers are those that are passionate about what they do, that are willing to help clients achieve what they need to and that can keep a smiling face when all about them are testy, angry and ungrateful. At the same time they have to be practical and willing to be creative to do what needs to be done. This is against a back drop that says if a regulator client or anyone else finds fault later on, no matter what they did they will be liable anyway.
So when I say super human - I really do mean it. That combined skill set is not easy to find and I don't think it exists in any other area of the law.
My own list includes;
Being a good communicator and approachable, being thick skinned and having an excellent knowledge of property law. The ultimate attribute however, is not bowing to any unfair pressure that work introducers, or clients, might try to exert. As the man (nearly) said:
For what is a conveyancer, what have they got
If not him/herself then they have not
To do the things they truly feel
And not the deeds of those who kneel
The record shows, they took the blows
But conveyed it the right way
*Rob Hailstone is Founder of the Bold Legal Group