I was talking to a man in the bar of my golf club last week and he explained to me that he was a solicitor specialising in conveyancing.
It seems as though you do not necessarily have to be a qualified solicitor to do this type of work. There are other qualifications a person can attain to that will qualify them to undertake such professional work. You can be a legal executive or a licenced conveyancer too.
What is a licenced conveyancer as opposed to a solicitor? Well it seems that there are firms of licenced conveyancers about as well as solicitors practices. Some or most solicitors firms have licenced conveyancers working there too. My golf club bar buddy apparently ran a conveyancing department where he just oversaw and rubber stamped cases being the only qualified solicitor in the department. I think he said he was also a partner in the firm which I believe is a requirement of the law society, but apart from him, he was the only qualified solicitor there and all the others were paralegals, licenced conveyancers and administrator level people. See this website if you’re looking for a solicitor to do your conveyancing. I’d love to recommend my golf buddy… but I think not!
He said they were busy, handling upwards of 40 solicitor conveyancing cases a month and he stated that it usually averaged around 7 weeks to open and complete a conveyancing case. Their fees would vary of course depending on how the firm chooses to market their services. In this particular circumstance the firm had two public facing profiles; one being a traditional high street firm where clients were usually acquired through long standing family client relationships and the other was where they were operating as part of a panel, receiving lots of casework from lender firms such as leading banks and building societies.
In this circumstance I suppose the fees wold be charged at a flat rate per case based upon the volume of cases handled rather than the higher fee they would levy per case if a face to face instruction was being received. I’ve heard it said that larger firms take these cases on to smooth out the funds and workflow to keep a conveyancing department in credit because you would not want to be hiring and firing if business is being experienced in peaks and troughs. I’d imagine that, like accountancy staff, you have to expend high costs to advertise for good staff or use an agency where commission costs can be up to 30 percent of an average salary.
I think that obviously you’re going to have to pay more to a qualified solicitor than a legal executive or licenced conveyancer even though they may actually do less work. Similarly, you’d probably find a definite correlation between the charge rates and salaries paid.
As for knowledge base, it’s likely that most solicitor conveyancing cases are largely the same therefore as long as the basic checks are made there should be no problems however some cases will deliver an area of complexity or difficulty.
My golf bar-buddy didn’t look particularly stretched and as it was a weekday afternoon and considering his rather low handicap I’d say he was doing alright and that there others in the engine room doing all the work for him!