Conveyancing is usually divided into two areas of work in a high street setting – firstly there is residential conveyancing, and secondly there is commercial conveyancing. The difference is exactly that – one is houses for individuals or investors, the other is offices and premises for business or commercial interests.
On the whole, high street firms tend to deal with residential conveyancing and some light commercial work – eg chip shops, post offices, individual shops etc.. Larger companies deal with large developments of both residential and commercial work – eg an out of town shopping complex, or a new housing development of say 400 homes.
A residential conveyancing solicitor has a mainly desk based job. She will spend the majority of her time dealing with clients wanting to instruct her, writing to other parties to request information, be this the local authority, the Land Registry, the other side’s solicitors etc.. Quite a lot of the work is done online now, which makes life a lot easier for computer literate lawyers, and hell for those not quite there yet!
There is very little to deal with out of the ordinary unless dealing with instructions from the landed gentry, farmers, and anyone with a slightly older title, as most of the work is now covered by the records kept at the Land Registry. I have heard it said many times of the years that this is a dying area of law for solicitors, but it just seems to keep going – it is so complex that solicitors are almost always needed in every office, and even the bigger volume conveyancing operations get a major headache dealing with some sales and purchases and have specialist solicitors to deal with problem matters.
Solicitors can have up to 70-80 cases ongoing at any time, and the work can be stressful in a different way – there is usually a lot of pressure on lawyers to keep the fees coming in, and move as fast as possible with clients, and the clients are constantly on the phone asking what is going on with their case. Everyone blames the solicitor for any delays, and usually the solicitor is unable to defend herself!