Today’s conveyancing market is experiencing unprecedented times. Lockdown, Brexit, seasonal holidays and the current cut in stamp duty are factors having a major impact, both positively and negatively, on the profession.
Following the catastrophic stall in house sales caused by the pandemic, the last couple of months have been amongst the busiest for ten years.
There is no doubt that the stamp duty holiday has provided a major boost for both the housing market and the legal profession. However, this temporary golden lining brings new challenges. Many firms are struggling operationally to put themselves in a position to maximise this opportunity and handle the influx of additional work effectively (some are actually turning work away!). This is a problem if firms have downsized recently, have staff on furlough, or are working remotely from multiple locations.
Technology is helping firms to overcome this scenario. In recent months we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic accelerate the delivery and adoption of new technology amongst law firms on an unprecedented scale. Firms have been forced to deploy better systems to safeguard their future existence.
Cloud technology is providing essential support, empowering the expertise of lawyers and conveyancers without interruption. It is allowing law firms to be adaptive and agile, providing conveyancers new ways of working online with clients, colleagues, estate agents and other parties. Firms adopting technology are future-proofing their practice and are able to scale productivity in line with both the highs, such as during the stamp duty holiday, and the lows of the conveyancing market.
The last five months have seen the adoption of technology accelerate across the profession in a period that would normally have taken many years. Law firms have quickly realised the many benefits of cloud-based innovation such as: case management software, providing business continuity and remote working to a practice; E-Signatures, with digital signatures on Deeds now permitted by the Land Registry; Client web portals, facilitating the onboarding of clients and payments online; and video conferencing which is eliminating the need for face to face contact.
This technology is also allowing practices to service a wider client base and attract new talent to their workforce nationally rather than just in their local area. Talent that for various reasons have found themselves available to explore new career opportunities. It’s enabling greater productivity, improved consistency and compliance, allowing conveyancers to work on their matters faster and more efficiently, and to make more profit.
Craig Taylor is Director of Relationship Development at LEAP UK. LEAP is a cloud-based practice management system with integrated time recording, billing and client accounting.