We’re midway through National Conveyancing Week and, with so much to celebrate, it’s hard to believe that many firms are still finding it hard to recruit qualified conveyancers.
A Conveyancing, a firm specialising in conveyancing, wills and probate, has dealt with the shortage by enrolling employees on MOL’s Level 4 and Level 6 ‘Conveyancing Law and Practice’ qualifications. We spoke with A Conveyancing’s founder and Managing Director to find out how the experience had been:
Thanks for joining us today to share your experience of working with MOL. Could you introduce yourself?
Thanks for having me here today. My name is Natalie Moore and I am the founder and Managing Director of A Conveyancing. We are a residential conveyancing firm and specialise mainly in that area of law alongside wills and probate, but predominantly are niche really as residential conveyancing. We're just going into our sixth year of trade, so we’re a relatively new company. We've gone from strength to strength - we've now got four offices and there's a team of about 60 of us.
That's fantastic. So growing really, really quickly - I suppose the world is always going to need conveyancers.
Absolutely. Well, we hope so.
Could you tell me a little bit about the sector?
As anybody that is familiar with conveyancing knows, it's always a really busy, fast-paced profession and we're faced with all sorts of challenges whether it's the stamp duty holiday incentive that the Chancellor announced, or just getting through the pandemic with the housing market closing, there's always updates in legislation.
But, I think the real struggle that the profession has had is the shortage of qualified conveyancers. I think that’s why it's really important that this route into conveyancing and into qualification is available, as opposed to just the traditional route that used to be going to university.
Before achieving their qualifications, was there anything that your team members were unable to do in their job? How did that impact the business?
Conveyancers don't necessarily have to be qualified to be able to do the role and do it well. We've got some fantastic conveyancers that have a lot of experience and haven't gone down the academic or qualification route, but that still perform their job really well. But ultimately, their work is always going to need that final sign off from somebody with the accreditation, so the firm can only operate with those qualified people amongst us.
For people that have gone through the qualification route, there's a sense of achievement for getting that and a sense of recognition. I know for myself, I'd been conveyancing for a long time before I was qualified. With constant client after client, it can be difficult to put some time aside to invest in yourself and that qualification. So when you do, I think it’s a personal achievement. And once you've got it, there’s that satisfaction that it's recognised and that’s the icing on the cake.
Yeah. So what was the main reason for upskilling your team with MOL?
One of our values within our firm is professional development. Being a relatively new firm and a young firm, we want to train our own staff so that they can progress. We've got a lot of ambitious people within the team and we want to upskill them because they already know the culture of the company. They can then go on to train the next set of new people that come in. And we never want anybody to perform a role that might become mundane or boring.
We are an evolving company and we've got a lot of organic growth. It creates lots of new opportunities, so to take those opportunities you do need to be willing to upskill and learn. The MOL qualifications were a great tool to have running alongside our growth, so that we could upskill people through experience, through training and through qualification.
Are there any particular benefits that you noticed once your team had achieved their qualifications? I know you've talked about the ability to pass that learning on, but was there anything else?
I think confidence is a big thing. We also work in a very open plan office and, as conveyancing is very collaborative, people bounce off each other and turn to each other for advice on laws changing or advice on a specific area of property law. You're always asking each other things. To be able to turn to somebody with a qualification and ask those questions gives us all a sense of confidence in the answer we get back, especially when that knowledge is backed up with practical experience as well.
Also, if you're not qualified, it can prevent routes to becoming a Director at a law firm and things like that. We run a structure called ‘ABS’ which means it isn’t an issue for us. But at law firms that aren't running as ABS, you would need the qualification to get to the top level.
Or you could set up your own firm, which is what I did!
So how has your experience been with MOL?
Yeah, it's been great. We've been working with MOL for a few years, we've put quite a few people through now. We've got some colleagues doing their Level 4 and their Level 6 qualifications at the moment!
At one point we put quite a lot of people through the ‘Introduction to Conveyancing’ qualification, which is a short course that's great for people that just want a refresher or that just want to gain a qualification but don't want or haven't got the time to do a long course, like the Level 4 or Level 6.
And have you had any feedback from your team on how they found the experience of studying with MOL?
I think what's nice for them is that they can go away and do it in their own time. We introduced 4 day working week last year, so a lot of people that are doing the MOL qualification use that fifth day to undergo that training.
Allocating time is really important. You can sign up for all courses and you can want to get qualified. But the reality is you do need that time to invest in that qualification.
The feedback that we have had is that our employees love how the qualification is available for them to study at their own convenience and they value the number of different tools that they can use. Whether it's activities or learning or reading or, you know, speaking with a tutor, there's a variety of learning.
It's true, you really do need to set that that time aside. That's probably one of the most important things I think, and the main reason that MOL have tried to make their qualifications as flexible and accessible as possible.
Yeah, and because it's modular you can really go for it with one module and then maybe take a little break and then go again if you don’t have the time or headspace. On the other hand, we've got people that are on a mission to get qualified and they just want to go from one module straight onto the next and onto the next.
So that's the nice thing about MOL; if you’re going down a classroom approach your time is dictated to you, whereas with the online method and the online toolkit, you can go in and learn at your own pace and at your own leisure.
Was there a particular reason you chose MOL rather than any other provider?
It was the friendly staff at MOL, they’re just an approachable company to use. They're willing to work with you, they'll spend time understanding the needs of the business.
There's not a great range of providers out there at the moment, so it's important to understand which ones are around and what they can provide that's going to work well for your firm. And we've had good feedback from the students that have completed the MOL training.
For us as an employer MOL works, and we are happy to continue to sign new people up as and when and we decide to make that investment in our team.
So how likely are you to recommend MOL to any other conveyancing firms that might be watching this?
Yeah, I'll be happy to recommend them. I'll be happy to speak to anybody that's looking for providers. I'm sure the team that have gained their qualifications through MOL would be happy to share their experiences as well.
Fantastic. So, and I think this one’s a really important question, why should someone consider a career in conveyancing?
I think it's actually a really, really rewarding career. It can be hard at times, as I imagine most people would say about their jobs, and you've got to want to enjoy it. You've got to want to be able to communicate.
You're making a difference to people's lives; you work a lot with first time buyers, or people having children who need a bigger family home. You go on that personal journey and at the end, when you speak to your clients on the day of completion, and when they get the keys, I think most conveyancers would say that they do it for that moment.
There's also room to progress, there's room to learn. I've been in conveyancing for 20 years and I've managed to progress from working on reception, to being a paralegal, to becoming a fee earner, to being a team leader. And now I run my own firm. There is plenty of opportunity for progression.
It’s fantastic how you’ve been able to come up through the ranks. I spent a few years working as an estate agent and the big thing that surprised me was that it wasn’t about money and numbers; it was about people and their stories. Do you find the same sort of thing in conveyancing?
Yeah, it is. You might work with somebody when they buy their first home, then again when they need a family home, then again when the children have grown up and moved away. It can be a very personal service. So, if you're not keen to work with people, it might not be the profession for you; but if you are it's definitely a rewarding career.
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