Conveyancing solicitors – email, telephone, fax or snail mail? The tell-tale sign of efficiency

11 Jul 2013

Conveyancing solicitors communicate using a variety of methods these days. The majority will have an account with the inter-law firm postal system called the Document Exchange (“the DX”) which is cheaper and is a next day delivery service. An immediate advantage to Royal Mail.

However, this is not the most immediate method to communicate. But do conveyancers want a faster method?

Actually, that is the wrong question, the correct question is what do their clients and potential clients want? That is who counts. But this is often ignored.

Indeed, many conveyancers would prefer a less immediate form of communication.

But why?

It is very true that conveyancers are busy lawyers. They are. This is because conveyancing probably commands the lowest legal fees in any area of every-day law, and so to make this area of law profitable to still carry out, a law firm must conduct a large quantity of individual cases at any one time. Why the legal fees are so low is mainly because of the unskilled entrants to the market who compete on price rather than accuracy or quality. This has forced the traditional solicitor firm to compete, thus reducing the price to the pubic. In fact, conveyancers may work for 8-12 weeks on a sale or purchase, but they still charge less than house removals, mortgage advisers, surveyors and estate agents. Yet, they carry enormous risk if they get their work wrong.

Consequently, a busy conveyancer wants to be able to manage their workload, and the less immediate method they can communicate, the longer gaps they have to move on to the next client, before their letters are returned – and the ‘juggling’ is made easier. “Ah, I have got that client’s file off my desk for a few days as I wrote a ‘snail mail’ letter to the other conveyancer”.

Unfortunately for these arguably old fashioned conveyancers, they are increasingly met with far more dynamic ones. Conveyancing solicitors whose preferred method of communication is instant. Fax, email or telephone. Those who put their own personal email or direct dial telephone number on their stationary when clients first instruct. Those conveyancers who refuse to hide behind ‘dial 1 for team x etc’ but who are totally accountable. Who positively encourage communication, not a website that clients are fobbed off to for updates.

But why are these conveyancers different? Because they do refuse to trade on how ‘cheap’ they are. Cheap ones will take on sheer quantity, where corners can be cut (and so errors, and big ones) made, and we can be straight back to the letter writer person above. No, these dynamic conveyancers actually listen to their clients. Clients who by definition want to buy that house, to sell that house, and so want to of course get there promptly.

After all, conveyancers do not get paid their full fee until exchange of contracts is secured. So these dynamic conveyancers are keen to achieve their clients wishes, and in the process, get paid.

Those conveyancers who act instantly, are usually qualified solicitors or chartered legal executives, who can make an instant decision, rather than those conveyancers who make their own clients and other lawyers wait while a more senior solicitor checks their work.

Prompt work, prompt deals, happy clients, happy estate agents, and so more business through a good reputation. All of that without a mention about cheap price. Instead, the offering of a quality long-term business model where client, estate agent and conveyancers are all rewarded.