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Filling a hidden gap in the housing market

Monday 03 April 2017

As the Government pledges to build a million new homes before 2020, and the number of first time buyers is at a peak, a Swansea based conveyancing company, Dezrezlegal, is seeking to fill a known gap in the housing market - a lack of trained conveyancers.

Despite the fluctuations within the housing market, the number of conveyancers has remained static.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has said previously that a shortage of conveyancers can have a significant impact on the time it takes for buyers to move into their new home, adding an additional two to four weeks on completion times.

Legal Director at Dezrezlegal, Laura Burkinshaw, believes that the shortage is caused, in part, by a lack of awareness about the profession:

"Many people don't come across conveyancing until they're buying a house themselves, so there's an issue around knowledge of the profession itself, but also about how to get into it. Although traditionally people have entered the profession after first training as a solicitor, you can now train in the job, starting at the age of 16."

Dezrezlegal, along with the CLC, the Regulatory body for Licensed Conveyancers, and the Conveyancing Trailblazer Consortium, is driving an innovative campaign to attract more young people to the industry.

They want Wales to adopt the English government's Trailblazers apprenticeship programme, a programme that Propertymark has supported heavily, which sees a group of employers work together to design new apprenticeship standards within their sector for people leaving school at the age of 16 and 18.

Such a standardised apprenticeship scheme for conveyancing would enable young people to start on a track that would see them receive a qualification from the CLC, the regulatory body for Licensed Conveyancers. Laura explains why she wants the opportunity for more apprentices:

"One of the key things that good conveyancers have is excellent customer skills. They're dealing directly with people who are purchasing the most expensive thing they'll ever buy; that can be a stressful time. Young people who have worked in cafes and shops are used to dealing with people face to face which gives them a huge head start. From there we can provide them with the technical training and then it's over to them."

Alongside its apprenticeship drive, Dezrezlegal is offering eight-week-long paid work placements to law students from Swansea University. Despite this being the more traditional route into the profession, there are still challenges in attracting young people this way explains Laura:

"People often go into law for the excitement of it; the day when you stand up in front of the judge. Conveyancing, along with other areas of law such as probate, doesn't have the same immediate appeal. In fact, I only learnt about what conveyancing was when I did work experience as a law student, so I'm a real advocate of work experience as a way of attracting people to the profession.

"We've created a really structured work placement where students can find out what the job involves - there's also virtually no tea making involved. In fact, we're hoping that it'll be a way to find future employees."

Amy De'Boer Lloyd first started at Dezrezlegal as a conveyancing assistant after she finished her LPC, the Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, at Cardiff University in 2010 and is now a qualified conveyancer leading a team. She said:

"I found out about conveyancing during my law degree and thought it sounded like an interesting area of law, as generally your clients are going through a happy time in their lives which isn't always the case with law. Dezrezlegal has been a great place to learn and there's a lot of scope to progress."