A week in the life of a Conveyancer
You have read what a day in the life of a conveyancer is like, now here is a what a whole week is typically like:
Being greeted by probably 100 emails every Monday morning. A daunting task. But weekends give clients time to take stock and ask conveyancers more general questions. And quite right, moving home is an involved and often confusing process.
But with those emails added to our existing work still continuing from the previous week, the day ahead can seem daunting. Emails are very easy to send these days, taking the sender just seconds, but the recipient – a conveyancer – must of course open their file, briefly review it, read the email, reply, close down the file – and this process is needed for every single email they receive – including printing them to keep a record of what has been said. Quite a task before the conveyancer can continue/conclude the very work some of these emails are asking about.
Once complete, we start on the previous weeks' work that might still need concluding, yet broken by the Monday morning influx of incoming calls from estate agents seeking an update, many of whom offering no information of their own to help the lawyers.
Then the pop-up reminder of the fortnightly Team Meeting, where the firm's conveyancing lawyers come together to discuss latest housing market news, tips observed from other conveyancers getting things wrong so as to improve our conveyancing even more, and a general discussion to ensure a united and happy team. Happy conveyancers equal happy clients. Conveyancers aware of the latest law and news, mean less inclined to make mistakes.
Then back to transactional conveyancing work before lunchtime – though frequently conveyancers work through their lunch break eating at their desk and keeping their clients' transactions moving forward.
New legal contract packs may have arrived from selling lawyers which need to be reviewed, and enquiries raised on them, being the first step of a client's home purchase. Are the packs legally defective? Were mistakes made by the previous conveyancing firm when they bought for their client? We must also start all the usual conveyancing searches before the file can go away as up-to-date.
This continues for each client who has a new contract pack arrive. And files are also brought out of the cabinets where search results have arrived back, or our enquiries have been answered by incoming letters and emails from opposite conveyancers.
File after file, continuous through each day. Particularly as conveyancers look after 50-100 clients all on their own at any given time. An incoming – and unexpected – telephone call lasting only a few minutes, or an 'easy to send' email, can cause the conveyancers planned work for the day to be unfinished into the next day.
This is a time management issue that conveyancers have to handle every day. Unexpected interuptions can delay the legal process.
(Why so many clients? Because, in comparison with the fees of an estate agents, mortgage brokers, surveyors, even house removals, conveyancers charge so little (yet take the massive risk of a legal error) but to make the maths work, they have no choice but to act for so many clients. An average conveyancing fee of £600 does not keep an expert lawyer employed. Or pay the overheads of running an office.)
The day progresses like this, whether before or after lunch, albeit leading to a slow down in incoming emails/calls from about 3pm.
Almost all conveyancers seem to close offices at 5pm dead, frustrating those of us still able to exchange contracts, thus spilling over to the next day.
Not commonly done by many firms, but certainly by us, we may take this day to globally review all our client files, giving a further, and detailed, update to each client and estate agent. It also acts as a reminder of any tasks we still need to do, if any. We never disrespect clients and force them to look online for tick box updates. Always a personal approach. Actual detail and right up to the minute.
What next? Perhaps chasing conveyancers who have been silent more than 7 days – increasingly, most – a chasing email with a cc to the estate agents. Or maybe a telephone call to a client asking them for answers to incoming enquiries raised by the buying lawyer – never writing to them by letter slowing things down. Email or telephone, to 'bat back' answers to keep up the pace.
Again, a day broken by the more enjoyable customer calls or emails seeking a conveyancing quote or outright wanting to employ us as their lawyers.
Giving quotes is enjoyable, as it is a chance to explain how Trethowans are radically different from the run of the mill quality out in the market place. Never do we shout 'we will do your work for cheap', but instead 'expert, affordable quality'.
Another day comes to an end.
What could happen today? Perhaps at last, after weeks of chasing another conveyancer, we hear from them. They are ready, and suddenly it is all urgent for them. Amusing to witness. Probably their clients threatened to fire them, so their fingers are out, and we are asked to exchange contracts. Gladly.
We call our client for 'same day' consent – to make sure they have not changed their minds, price, and, of course, are still alive – and then lawyers agree by telephone to lock their clients into the deal by an 'exchange of contracts', afterwards, hanging up and calling their clients and estate agents with the good news.
Contract exchanges will take place throughout the week at any given time, though invariably, any attempt after 3pm will be frustrated by one firm in the chain who probably goes home early or dead at 5pm with no warning.
Tomorrow is the busiest day of the week, so double-checks are made that Friday completions are all ready to go first thing (typically 8.30am). Clients are again contacted to reassure them we remain ready and to check if they have any final questions. Exciting for them.
In parallel the penultimate day's work is conducted. A few exchanges, though Friday is often a busy day for exchanges, perhaps a realisation by many firms that they have taken too long, so another weekend better not pass.
But the usual transactional work – reviewing incoming papers, raising enquiries, solving the defects we spot in previous conveyancing work, or review of incoming search results. Of course all mixed in with 50-70 incoming emails and probably about 20 phone calls per day.
A lot of balancing taking place. One oversight by the conveyancer, and it could be a professional negligence claim – in return for only having charged an average fee of £600 plus VAT.
But that risk is not considered by many an estate agent chain who just want their commission, or new house build developers who just want their house exchanged, no matter what, or the seller whose lawyer has delayed weeks, and then when they finally give the buyer's lawyer everything, that lawyer is targeted by everyone to turn it around within hours.
Completions day. Well, the day with typically the most completions. When only buying, we aim for our money to hit the banking system by 8.30am, so the chain has the earliest start.
It is amazing how many conveyancing firms fail to acknowledge receipt of the money we send. Leaving us and our client in limbo, taking us to randomly check with them.
Friday afternoons are a bit like the last two weeks leading up to Christmas. So many opposing conveyancers have mentally stopped work for the weekend/holidays already. We always persevere.
But the last day of the week. Most of the week's emails, if not all, have been dealt with, letters and calls, as well as incoming legal communications. Ready for it to start all over again on Monday.
But of course, many clients' home moves now straddle yet another weekend. Some were exchanged, so an exciting weekend for many. But for other clients, yet another weekend passes.
But, again, perhaps unique at Trethowans, we routinely update our clients just before the weekend, with a cc to estate agents. How nice that clients can be informed of the very latest, so they can chat with their friends to explain just that. Never a silent, unknowing weekend. How often has that happened to you?