Industry Response To Increase In Conveyancing Vacancies

Following Today’s Conveyancer’s report on the increase in demand for conveyancers, reflected by the increase of vacancies on job site Indeed, we discuss reactions from those in the industry.

New data this week has shown that the UK employment has suffered the biggest drop in more than a decade during the last quarter.

Reports from the Office of National Statistics have show a decrease of 220,000 jobs between April and June, a fall that has not been seen since the height of the financial crisis in 2009. There are also further worries that there may be further job losses when the Job Retention Scheme ends in October.

At a time of uncertainty regarding employment, there appears to be the opposite in the conveyancing sector.

Advertisements on job websites such as Indeed do include paralegals and secretaries for conveyancers, however the number has been steadily increasing, showing there is a demand there for all areas in conveyancing, reflecting the increasing demand.

We asked those in the industry their experience of the current increased demand for conveyancers and conveyancing team members.

Joe Rees, Director at Thornton Legal let us know:

“Over the past few weeks, we have certainly seen an upturn in the volume of residential property vacancies, particularly for experienced residential conveyancers. Our clients are telling us they are confident of a longer-term bounce beyond the end of the stamp duty holiday in March 2021.

“Most firms we are talking to have returned their furloughed residential property staff to help them manage demand and good fee earners who have found themselves facing redundancy have, in the main, been quickly snapped up elsewhere. The knock-on effect is likely to be an upturn in the hiring of conveyancing assistants and support staff.

“Those firms who made quick fire redundancies may live to regret it as competitors who held their nerve now in the driving seat. It will be tough for them to get new people on board as their reputations will have taken a knock plus, regardless of redundancies, there will still be a shortage of good quality residential conveyancers in the job market.

“A quick glace at the legal job shows that the overall volume of vacancies have doubled, with most of the recruitment activity focussed on family, litigation, private client and property. Our commercial clients tell us things are definitely improving but, generally, not yet at the levels where external recruitment is necessary. “

Dapinder Singh, Director at WS Strategic Ltd, raised concerns about the longevity of the demand for conveyancers:

“There is currently a mini boom in the property market and it is clear that additional resources are needed to ensure the work is completed in a timely manner.  It is important however for businesses to invest in marketing and development to ensure that when there is a dip in the property market again, they have sufficient work for the newly recruited conveyancers.”

Nicola Lebish, Senior Associate and Head of Enfranchisement at Birketts LLP, said:

“The economic uncertainties caused by Covid are causing significant issues across all areas of residential conveyancing, affecting all types of practice from ABSs to traditional firms, large and small.

“Within my own firm, we have seen a huge fluctuation in workload between the fall in April and May to the dramatic acceleration of work throughout June and July, which is continuing into August. In our conveyancing practice alone, we saw an unprecedented increase in instructions in June and July. And those instructions are across the full spectrum of property and client types.

“I am not surprised that the sector is on a recruitment drive – coupled with the significant demand for conveyancing services, a lot of clients want to move quickly. These two factors are leading firms to look to the market place, particularly for supporting paralegals to assist with the volume of work they are facing.

“Within multi-discipline firms, it may be possible to second lawyers from less busy sectors within the business into the conveyancing practice to avoid permanent or even fixed term recruitment. Smaller or niche firms do not necessarily have that flexibility and that is where I would expect recruitment to be the greatest.

“Whilst levels of work will inevitably fall, there is no way of telling how fast that fall will be. We are in an artificial environment at the moment with the relaxation in Covid restrictions releasing pent up demand and the SDLT holiday driving good levels of business on the one hand yet on the other we have uncertainty over the impact of the recession with the hardest period yet to come when the furlough scheme comes to an end. “

Firms should be considering the future of demand seriously, and considering what impact the reintroduction of the lower stamp duty threshold as well as the possibility of a second wave, which may impact the housing market and more potential buyers being made redundant.  It would be irresponsible for firms to recruit new conveyancers, to meet demand, before considering the consequences further down the line, or with no plan on how to develop their business further so that there is still a role for new recruits.

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