Solicitors despite the image some may give through poor client relations do understand that moving home is stressful and for the client is one of the most important lifetime experiences. We know that you are worried about the transaction falling through before contracts are exchanged; we also know that making arrangements to move in to a home are fraught with complexity and expense. We recogonise that you expect given this anxiety to be regularly informed about what is happening. This is understandable.
So what can you do to help?
To begin with you should at the outset receive a ‘pack’ of information from your solicitor containing documents of various description for you to read and in some instances complete. I bet some of you think that we do this on purpose, that we send what may seem to be hundreds of documents in the hope that this will impress you and justify our modest fee! The true answer however is that we are obliged to send some of these documents because of obligations placed upon us by the organization that regulates our profession. Other documents are necessary as part of the home moving process. Most forward thinking solicitors like us believe that the system for moving home is antiquated and requires reform. Unfortunately until a progressive looking Government changes the system we have to work within the constraints of a system that was designed when far fewer land transactions were taking place. So this brings me to the first tip – please read the papers we send and do your best to complete the forms etc fully and ensure they are returned promptly. Time is often lost having to chase for information and documents that are requested at the outset. The more you can supply the quicker the process will be.
The other advantage of reading the ‘pack’ in full is that it will contain an explanation of the process and should answer a number of the questions you have about timings and the stages of the procedure.
The second tip relates to trust and understanding. Although your move is the most important thing to you, it must be kept in mind that for a solicitor to be able to quote a competitive price for the job, he is obliged to take on and process a number of other transactions. It is not uncommon for a busy practitioner to handle at any one time around 80 live transactions. Though an equal amount of time is devoted to all of the cases, as far as that can be achieved, it is inevitable that there will be times when you case does not receive daily attention. If a practitioner were only to handle say 5 to 20 cases at any one time, he would probably have to charge around £800 to £1000 for each transaction to make it pay. Many of you would not sadly be prepared to pay a premium of that level for personal attention of this type. So an understanding of the practicalities of a modern day conveyancing firm does I am sure help. As does the fact that where there is a ‘chain’ of transaction taking place it is more often the case that the process of you case is hampered by the slowness of someone else within the chain. This is frustrating as it often gives the impression that your solicitor is slow. So as for my second tip please can you show some understanding by trusting your solicitor to do the best he can for you and to allow him to get on with the work he is undertaking for you. I know from personal experience that having to take phone calls during the day can prove very disruptive and cause delay. I am not advocating that you should never call your solicitor; all I am saying is that before picking up the phone just ask yourself whether the call is necessary. Many solicitors prefer and find e-mail communication less disruptive.
This brings me to my final tip and one that I consider would help tremendously if followed. One of the largest groups of callers into conveyancing departments is that of estate agents. I recogonise that they are keen to see a transaction completed quickly for obvious reason, but I simply do not understand why some persist in calling every day to find out about progress. I can perhaps understand an agent calling on behalf of a client of that agent but when we get as we do calls from the agent of the other party it is, at least in my view, unacceptable and very disruptive. So if you could speak to you agent and make sure they do not call without your approval this would be very helpful.
At the end of the day the client comes first and the need to keep the client updated is paramount. We have to work in a system that is inherently slow and which is akin to an age when telegrams and manual type writers were prevalent. Clients expect a professional and quick service but at an affordable price. The question whether the high street lawyer can continue to meet this demand is a question for debate on another day.
David Pett who is a partner with Morgan Jones and Pett wrote this Blog Entry. His role involves the supervision of the firm’s Residential Conveyancing Team. He also runs the Business Development and IT Team. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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