If you’ve ever bought a house or flat you’ll know the main reason it takes so long – a lot of the time – is the conveyancing bit. The wheels of the legal profession traditionally grind very slowly indeed. But times are changing. New legislation in the form of the Legal Services Act is set to blow things wide open, with non-legal businesses like supermarkets being allowed to offer consumers legal services for the first time from October 2011.
Many law firms are furious. Some are terrified of the effect an open market will have on their bottom line. Others are resigned. And a few – the wise players – are busy making preparations to compete effectively in the new market.
What does it mean for ordinary people like us? For a start, increased competition should bring the cost of legal services down. A good thing when legal support often seems outrageously expensive. If we’re lucky it’ll improve the speed and efficiency of legal services too. Which is good news if you want to move house or buy for the first time and are dreading the snail-like pace of the legal side of things.
Last time we moved house it took five months. Not because there were any problems with the purchase, the searches or the property itself. But because the solicitors on both sides were so slow. They were terrible at keeping us posted – we had to call them endlessly to get updates. On one side, the conveyancing solicitor went on holiday for two weeks without either informing us or handing our case over to a colleague. As a result we had to shift our moving date, rearrange associated services like removals and re-book time off with work. All of which made the whole process much more stressful than it needed to be.
Watch out for businesses like the Co-Op entering the legal services market. They’re preparing as I write. Supermarkets and banks will probably also join the party, as they did when the insurance market was shaken up in much the same way a few years back. And look forward to faster, more reasonably priced, more accessible and ‘human’ legal services.
Published June 28, 2011 & Filed in Discount Coder Chat
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