People often under-estimate just how important a good property lawyer is to the house moving process.
Choosing the right solicitor for your conveyance could be the single most important thing you do as part of your property-buying journey (after appointing a buying agent like me, of course!! ;-).
Unfortunately, that’s not as straightforward as it sounds. In fact, picking the right conveyancing solicitor can be a bit like picking a needle out of a haystack.
As a property search and buying agent, I have worked a lot with solicitors over the years and whilst there are some who I would not recommend, there are some firms and also individuals who have done (and still do) an absolute sterling work and that I can vouch for the high quality of work.
Amongst them, Claire Russell-Lartaud! (who happens to be my wife by the way 😉)
Claire is based in Bristol and works as an independent consultant solicitor for London-based law firm Taylor Rose MW. She has been providing her legal expertise to many of our buyers’ clients at Domus Holmes Property Finder and also works with many leading and independent estate agents across the south of England, including in London, assisting clients with the sale, or purchase (or both) their properties. She believes communication is key to relieving the stress Residential Conveyancing can create, which is why she responds to all emails and telephone calls within 24 hours, and, for the most part, on the same day. And even sometimes during the weekend if urgent! That is what I call extra client care!
Unlike most Solicitors employed by a law firm, Claire does not act for a large number of clients at any one time, allowing her to provide first-class client care and to give each transaction the legal expertise and attention it requires.
Her client base, over the years, has ranged from acting for high net worth individuals, celebrities and royalty, to companies, religious bodies and trusts and to upsizers, downsizers and first-time buyers. She also worked for an ultra-high net worth individual’s private family office as their in-house solicitor on a complex property and finance related project.
She believes what she is offering is more client care focussed than any law firm she has previously worked for, without compromising legal expertise and diligence. Claire also has the added empathy for agents that many solicitors just don’t have!!!!
Her Taylor Rose details are:
DD (transfers to her mobile): 020 3985 6970
Website link to her bio: https://www.taylor-rose.co.uk/our-people/profile/claire-russell-lartaud
She has also set-up a company profile page: https://www.crlpropertylaw.co.uk
And her 5 stars reviews on Trust Pilot are a testimony of the high level of care and quality of service she delivers: https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/crlpropertylaw.co.uk
With roughly half as many solicitors doing conveyancing now as there were in 2005, using a good professional and reliable property solicitor is paramount!
As a buying agent, here are my top tips:
- Stay away from conveyancing firms advertising on daytime TV – these types of firms are scouting for business and are commonly referred to as conveyancing “sweatshops” where the people handling your matter are call centre reps rather than properly qualified property professionals.
- No sale, no fee conveyancing – avoid like the plague! This kind of price promise is more often offered by online (sweatshop, call centre) conveyancing firms rather than traditional law firms. Such an offer makes us question the quality of the work as certain issues may be overlooked in order to get the sale through so the firm can collect their fee.
- You don’t always get what you pay for. If you pay a mere £300, don’t expect miracles! The work is likely to be done by a less qualified person and not necessarily properly overseen. However, the more expensive conveyancer or solicitor is not always the best. This is where referrals, reviews and background research are invaluable.
- Don’t let estate agents pressurise you into choosing one of their recommended solicitors – in case this happens, kindly turn their offer down and mention that you will seek advice from the SRA or CLC. This usually does the trick! Many estate agents view promoting legal services as a vital source of income. Back in the days having a good solicitor was a Godsend… but that logic seems to have now been confounded by referral fees.
- Your conveyancer / solicitor should give you a direct line / phone number to contact them on. Again, call centre / online conveyancers will often have a general number for you to use and you speak to the “next available rep”. Smaller firms may also provide only the reception number, so that every time you call to speak to your conveyancer the receptionist will have to put you through. This is an excellent way for conveyancers to “screen” calls. It is essential that you have a direct line, rather than just an email address, to enable you to speak to your conveyancer, especially if things become time critical.
- Ask who will be handling your matter – it is quite usual for a paralegal or trainee solicitor or conveyancer to handle the day-to-day progression of your matter, however, it is important that their work is ultimately overseen by a solicitor / associate / licenced conveyancer / partner and NOT a case manager. A properly qualified and experienced practitioner is essential to ensure that all legal aspects affecting the property have been properly addressed. Avoid any firm who tells you a “case manager” signs off everything!
- Always check that the firm is authorised to provide conveyancing services by the relevant regulation authority (the SRA or CLC). Surprisingly, there are lots of unregistered and fake “law firms” out there. It is against the law to provide conveyancing services if the firm is not authorised by its relevant regulation authority.