Conveyancers considering leaving the profession due to mental health
Key leaders in the legal profession reveal conveyancers are suffering mental health problems because of the unprecedented workload they are enduring to meet the March 31st stamp duty holiday deadline.
The conveyancing industry is under immense pressure and currently experiencing a vast amount of work due to pent up demand from SDLT holiday and delaying factors out of their control. Leaders in the industry are urging house movers to have realistic expectations as to whether they will complete their transaction or not in time for the deadline.
Law Society of England president David Greene said:
“Solicitors are working under pressure around the clock to help their clients move both in time for Christmas and ahead of the SDLT deadline”
Conveyancers are currently being swamped with huge volumes of emails and telephone calls from anxious clients and estate agents wanting to know the current position of their transactions “but the time spent dealing with such enquiries prevents solicitors from progressing matters.”
The Law Society have sent two open letters to the Chancellor, one in October and one last month requesting for an extension to the current stamp duty land tax (SDLT) holiday due to the profession being under immense pressure and stress.
Greene said the run up to Christmas is going to be extremely busy as people will want “…….to complete their desired move before Christmas and our members know an even busier and more stressful time awaits them up to the end of March.”
“Consumers must recognise that it is increasingly unlikely that if they sell or buy their house now, that they will complete by the March 31 deadline. The solicitor is often the last link in the move, and it is only when the solicitor has all the pieces, which they are dependent on obtaining from others, that buyers and sellers can move.”
Conveyancers are also being impacted by delays through other stakeholders being under pressure too. There have been delays in the issuing of search results, delays in mortgage offers being issued, problems in the chain and with dependent transactions.
Today’s Conveyancer spoke to legal recruiters in the industry to ask whether they have seen a shortage of conveyancers and/or seen conveyancers wanting to leave the profession.
Joe Connolly, director and head of legal recruitment at Capio Recruitment said:
“I specialise in recruiting for Conveyancers and we work with several of the largest Conveyancing practices in the UK.
I speak with several Conveyancers every day and have noticed a stark increase in the volume of Conveyancers considering leaving the industry. I would say that now is the most difficult time we have seen for our clients to attract new and retain their current Conveyancers.
I get regular reports to say that Conveyancers are handling up to double their usual workload, with their firms hesitant about hiring new staff due to a potential drop off of work next year.
Our clients who have invested in well in their technology and case management systems seem to be able to manage the workloads more effectively at the moment.”
Nicola O’Hanlon, a residential conveyancing recruitment specialist at BCL Legal Recruitment added:
“The SDLT incentive has caused a huge spike in new instructions, which has led to Conveyancers being massively overloaded with clients rushing to beat the ticking ‘stamp duty’ clock.
“This is obviously having an impact on the stress and wellbeing of conveyancers who are working around the clock to ensure expectations are met and clients are provided with the service they are promised. There is a definite shortage of experienced conveyancers in the recruitment market at the moment as anyone who felt they were ready to pursue a new challenge is now very wary of jumping out of the frying pan straight into the fire.
“The advice I have given to any Conveyancers still looking to move is to ensure they are moving to a well-structured team with efficient IT systems able to cope with peaks in instructions. Also, ask questions at interview to understand how firms are coping with the high demand as this will give you a much better understanding of how well-equipped they are to deal with these kinds of peaks in the market.”
CEO of legal mental health charity, Lawcare, Elizabeth Rimmer talked about the impact on solicitors. She said:
“Many lawyers are turning to us for support because of a deterioration in their mental health during the pandemic. We know that many conveyancers are feeling overwhelmed at the moment with increased workload and have little time to relax and recharge. In addition, the boundaries between work and home have become blurred and it is challenging to keep team spirits up and maintain good communication when we can’t see each other in person and feel isolated. If you are struggling, reach out to us for support on 0800 279 6888 or email [email protected] It can really help to talk things through and work our some strategies for keeping well in these difficult times.”
In the past week the Treasury confirmed there would be no extension to SDLT holiday which is due to end on March 31st. An online petition calling for such an extension now has around 25,000 signatures.
However, it has been noted that the government has made a series of high profile U-turns over the last few months – only last week the Chancellor made a last minute decision to extend the furlough scheme by an additional month to the end of April 2021.
Meanwhile, The Guild of Property Professionals surveyed more than 1,000 buyers recently. The results of which has suggested almost a third (31 per cent) may pull out if looks like they are going to miss the stamp duty holiday deadline.