How has the work of a conveyancer changed over the years?
When I started out as a teenager in 1978 there were no computers, not even electric typewriters, and no photocopiers. All of the contracts were in French, and the old scale fee still applied, so we charged a fixed 1% of each agreed sale or purchase price for our conveyancing services – these days it's a fraction of that. But fundamentally the job was the same: it's all about being trusted by people on the sales and purchases of their homes, which are transactions of tremendous personal, as well as financial, importance. Clients need to feel that we understand how important these things are to them, and that their needs are being met. Speaking personally, delivering a transaction and handing over the keys to a home is enormously satisfying, even after nearly 40 years in the trade.
How does it all work now?
Today we all work from Surface tablets so we're fully mobile – we use automated document assembly, the States online PRIDE public registry, and we collaborate with colleagues to ensure our processes are as efficient as possible, and to ensure that lawyers, conveyancers and paralegals work as a team so that the appropriate person is undertaking each separate task for an appropriate cost. At the same time, because we need them when we're visiting sites to review and check boundaries, our list of kit still includes wellington boots, spades and tape measures!
Your career began with Ogier – how has the firm changed, from your perspective?
We're still the best team – both in terms of the expertise and experience of our conveyancers and property lawyers but also because we apply the same principles of commitment to excellence in client service and professionalism that Ogier worldwide applies to all of its work internationally. Technical excellence in our work is almost a given, but what our team combines, uniquely, is the experience and history that assures clients that we have seen it all before, and the innovation and resource that says that we do things in a modern, digital way, as efficiently as we can.
How do you see things changing over the next few years?
It's fair to say that – from the point of view of the wider industry - there is a shortage of experienced conveyancers. Some have taken the decision to work independently, but from my perspective, being part of a team of colleagues sharing responsibility for the various tasks that need to be completed is the best way to deliver better outcomes for clients. And that's the key thing now, just as it was in 1978.