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What does a conveyancing solicitor do? Guest blog by Monica Raife
24 August 2023

What does a conveyancing solicitor do?

Published on 24 August 2023

I’m Monica, I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University, and I have been qualified as a solicitor for almost a decade! I specialise in conveyancing and work on behalf of clients buying or selling houses, flats and land in England and Wales. On a day-to-day basis, I deal with all the legal matters, administration, finance, and queries involved in a property transaction.

My role involves handling and agreeing contracts, arranging transfers, and processing other documents that sellers and buyers must sign when selling or purchasing property. I advise clients on the technical content of the documents and their financial implications.

I have a TikTok page @legalpractitoner which help students with tips/advice on working in the law!

What does a conveyancing solicitor do?

To put it simply, conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property such as flats, houses, business premises or land from one owner to another.

A conveyancing solicitor is instructed, by their clients to carry out the legal and administrative roles involved in this buying and selling process, from taking a client’s initial instruction to the exchange of contracts and completion of the transaction.

A conveyancing solicitor will: 

  • Advise clients on the property buying and selling process
  • Research who legally owns land and property (also known as a title investigation)
  • Conduct searches with local authorities for things that might affect a sale
  • Draft sales contracts, or review the same if acting on behalf of a buyer
  • Communicating with mortgage lenders, estate agents and solicitors
  • Check financial records and prepare statements
  • Prepare leases and transfer documents
  • Keep buyers and sellers up to date with progress of a sale
  • Maintain accurate records
  • Deal with exchange of contracts to complete a sale
  • Make sure Stamp Duty Land Taxes are paid

What does my day-to-day work look like?

I research information (also known as carrying out due-diligence) and communicate with clients and others (such as estate agents, mortgage brokers, solicitors) in person, on the phone, by letter or by email.

I use a computerised case management system, as conveyancing tasks are gradually being completed online. Most firms are now aiming to become a “paperless” firm.

My daily activities will consist of: 

  • Taking instructions from clients
  • I seek to protect clients' interests at all times, while taking precautions against potential fraud and money laundering
  • Sending terms of engagement and estimates of fees and disbursements
  • Obtain or check Land Registry documents or title deeds (if the land is unregistered)
  • Draft or check sales contracts and agree terms with the conveyancer acting for the other party to the transaction
  • Arrange and send or check supporting legal and financial documents
  • Deal with all financial aspects of a transaction
  • Exchange contracts and complete the transaction

My working hours are typically 37 hours per week, possibly with some extra hours. I can work from the office and remotely. Part-time work and job sharing are both possible in this industry.

How much does a conveyancing solicitor get paid?

Salaries vary considerably from firm to firm and where you are based in the country, but they would typically range from around £19,000, for someone starting out, up to £50,000+ for those with many years of experience. Management roles with a firm or partnership would push salaries higher.

I would recommend that you review your salary on a yearly basis as your experience is increasing.

How do I get into conveyancing law?

I am a huge advocate of making speculative applications. This means proactively approaching a law firm to seek out opportunities that have not been advertised. Previous work experience gained at a law firm, estate agents or bank can be valuable. Experience of working as a legal secretary can be particularly advantageous, though not essential as you can obtain training at the firm you are working at.

Work experience can involve shadowing the solicitor, meeting with an employer to discuss their work or even helping around the office with admin work. As these are informal and voluntary work experience opportunities, do keep in mind that they are usually unpaid. Lastly, make sure after every work experience, you update your CV and highlight your experiences.

Property law in practice will suit those who can work at a fast pace and are able to work to deadlines, which are sometimes very tight.

The traditional route into any legal role with a fee earning capacity was to complete an LLB degree (Bachelor’s degree in law) and then completing a Legal Practice Course (LPC). Following completion of this, you'd then obtain a training contract within a law firm; qualifying as a solicitor on completion of this position.

However, the route has changed with the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) which comes with a much more flexible practical experience route via Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). Non-graduates, who work in law firms, can join the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX). Candidates looking to do this will need to have at least four GCSEs, or recognised equivalents. Those who undertake this route to qualification will be required to sit various examinations and to also undertake CILEX approved employment.

Alternatively, it is possible to become a licensed conveyancer by passing exams set by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).

If you wish to pursue a career in conveyancing, I recommend you obtain legal work experience and keep up to date on property news as the law regarding conveyancing updates regularly. Building up connections with law firms, estate agents etc via Social Media is a useful tool, ensuring that when you apply for a role later in the process the firm remembers you.

Best of luck.

Monica Rafie