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Communication is a two-way street

Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve been travelling the length and breadth of the country giving presentations to various groups about Home Information Packs.

One slightly unusual event I was asked to attend recently was the National Conveyancing Congress – hundreds of solicitors in one room getting really excited about conveyancing. It was an interesting event with much of relevance to mortgage intermediaries.

The conveyancing system is undergoing a big overhaul and the Land Registry aims to complete a huge e-conveyancing project by 2009 which is intended to transform the legal details of housing transactions.

As a panel speaker, I asked the audience how many of their firms had a website that explains to clients how conveyancing works, what information they can get and how HIPs will affect housing transactions. Unsurprisingly, you could count the number who said yes on the fingers of one hand. I then put it to them that the most important issue facing the legal industry is not technology but communication.

Lawyers must get better at communicating with clients. They must tell them what is happening and why, how they can get more information and what they can expect to happen next. They need to demystify the process to make it less of a roller coaster of uncertainty and more of a predictable path that holds few surprises.

Without exception the audience agreed. In fact they went further. They also said they had to get better at communicating with staff and other business professionals such as mortgage brokers. They seemed pretty committed to change.

This is excellent news for brokers. But it is also incumbent on them to reciprocate and en-sure their communications improve.

Improving communication won’t be difficult. Technology will address many of the issues concerning, for example, case tracking information being made available to all relevant parties. One lawyer explained how his firm kept all clients informed about their conveyancing with text messages.

If you haven’t already done so you should be considering how you can improve your channels of communication. 2007 will bring with it fresh opportunities and challenges such as HIPs. If you are going to capitalise on these you need to be able to communicate effectively.

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