Why do conveyancing solicitors not advertise their charges?

01 May 2013

Because that would be to equate what conveyancing solicitors do to the simple sale of ‘goods’ such as a can of Heinz baked beans, or a loaf of Warburtons bread. Where there is no difference in quality between legal firms, and where one size can fit all.

Of course there are conveyancing solicitors who advertise their fees and so throw out a price without knowing anything about your home move, and you then hope there will be no inbuilt fine print, or hidden extras.

But the reality is that few conveyancing solicitors will disrespect a home mover in this way. What conveyancing solicitors offer is not 'goods', but a ‘service’. And by definition, a service will be unique. No conveyancing solicitor will offer the exact same service. The ingredients will be of higher or lower quality. For instance:

  • Will they offer an actual solicitor to you, or a chartered legal executive? Or in fact do you receive someone quite anonymous, and perhaps with very inadequate legal training?
  • Will you find it difficult to reach your conveyancer by phone, or do they offer their personal phone number and email address?
  • Will they offer inflexible hours, by closing at lunch and dead on 5pm?
  • Are they too small a team, where illness and holidays may mean that your legal work grinds to a halt?
  • Are they a one trick pony, without colleagues in support who can offer legal advice in other areas of law which impact conveyancing (e.g. Wills, trusts, probate, disputes, family, employment)?

The fact is, the majority of conveyancing solicitors will not advertise a price for conveyancing on their websites, as they would at least invite the opportunity to not only discover what work is likely to be involved before they can quote a fee (e.g. is the property a freehold, or a more complicated leasehold, will it be more complicated because it is a newly built property, or perhaps for some less experienced conveyancers, they may want to charge more because it involves unregistered land) but they will also have more to offer the customer than their priority of pushing a price of how  ‘cheap’ they can be without knowing anything about the nature of the conveyancing, or even wanting to know. A worrying thought, and a disrespectful one too.

Indeed, the customer who is prepared to at least have a conversation with the conveyancing solicitor before discovering their legal fees may well save themselves £100s, by dodging a quote from a firm who was cheap on paper but ‘you wished you’d done some homework before going with them’.

When a conveyancing solicitor can actually speak with potential customers, they can explain how their service will differ from the competition. And there certainly is competition in the market place, with conveyancers ranging wildly in quality.