Today’s Conveyancer talks to Michael Connelly, MD at Legal Bricks
Today’s Conveyancer talk to Michael Connelly, MD of search provider Legal Bricks about his experiences of the challenges of the last 12 months and what Legal Bricks are doing to innovtae their product offering to help practitioners.
TC: Can you provide a brief introduction to Legal Bricks and tell us what you do as a company?
MC: We started life as a search company around 12 years ago now, but over the past 4 years, we have evolved with the demands of the market place and now offer a full suite of software solutions to support conveyancing solicitors and estate agents.
As they have always been, searches still remain core to our business focus and we are extremely proud of the service we deliver. But more than this, we now support firms in a multitude of ways through our custom-built end to end software solutions, which encompass a conveyancing quotation and referral platform, full suite of conveyancing searches and insurances, AML and Biometric solution, client on-boarding platform and a hybrid service which aims to fill the void between the case-management system and the end user.
TC: How did the SDLT holiday impact Legal Bricks and your ability to serve up searches in a timely manner?
MC: Wow – That’s the only word I can use to describe the past 12 months!
It has been an absolute whirlwind and I don’t think any search company, conveyancing practice or estate agent, could have predicted how this period would unfold.
We had Hackney Council who were “Hacked”, causing a 6 month backlog and all kinds of turmoil for potential buyers. We had councils who were working to 70 and 80 working day turn-around times as they just didn’t have the staff due to self-isolation or illness. And finally, we had councils who couldn’t provide the required information unless you visited their offices, which incidentally, were actually closed at that point due to covid restrictions.
We saw unprecedented demand around the industry and thankfully as a business, we were on the front foot. Our team were all based remotely from an early point in the pandemic and they were able to complete their roles from home, to an amazingly high level!There were delays as you can imagine, but we always managed our client’s expectations and gave them the accurate information they needed. And where all other routes were exhausted and completions relied upon it, we went “cap in hand” to councils and asked for favours. Despite them also working around the clock, many were more than happy to assist knowing that we all had a common goal, of helping people move home.
TC: What do you see that needs changing in the conveyancing process?
MC: 2020/2021 has seen huge leaps forward in conveyancing and how law firms look at technology. Land Registry now accept digital signatures for TR1’s which was a huge step forward and online conveyancing looks like it may truly end up being – “Online Conveyancing”.
We see a key part to play for law firms in the future of conveyancing, but also, a more integrated role for consumers.
We are in an age where people “want it now” and we truly feel this ethos will resonate in property, if it isn’t already. How this unfolds only time will tell, but we certainly see process change happening over the next few years.
Watch this space!
TC: What’s new at Legal Bricks?
MC: We are constantly pushing the boundaries to make our offering bigger, better and more efficient. In 2016 were the first to launch our interactive local search with dynamic links to answered questions and a traffic light scheme to alert conveyancers to issues.
In 2021, we are now focusing on technology as our core driver and with this in mind, Legal Bricks have been working around the clock to finalise our new solution. This aims to speed up the conveyancing process, reduce data entry for solicitors and ensures that clients of our partner law firms, have a seamless journey from the start to the finish of their conveyancing journey.
Via our new platform “LB-Connect”, we have really advanced things and created a fully white labelled solution for law firms, which provides them with a platform where their clients can complete a whole range of tasks.
Some of the innovative features include an E-Signature service for those key on-boarding documents, the ability to complete protocol forms, client questionnaires and joint ownership forms online, where they can subsequently be signed electronically, and an in-built messaging service for clients and solicitors to reduce emails and centralise data.
Alongside these features, we also include our new biometric face scanning technology and an integrated source of funds solution, enabling law firms to verify client identity and source of funds, in real-time. Based on feedback to date, we believe this is exactly what the property industry needs to remove those bottle necks and create even further efficiencies for each practice.
TC: How does this Client Portal help solicitors/estate agents/ home movers?
MC: Put simply, it removes all of the “Faff”. Solicitors can prepare conveyancing quotes from our system in under 60 seconds. Once instructed, the platform does all the hard work by engaging with the client in real-time and providing a portal which works on mobile, tablet or pc, where clients can complete all of the on-boarding information in a fraction of the time.
From sample data and feedback so far, we believe this will reduce transaction times by as much as 4 weeks and will really enhance the client’s perception and credibility of the law firm.