By Leonie Jarrett*.
In the spirit of professional co-operation, not to preach nor tell you what to do, I share with you my experience in being at the forefront of this fast-changing, new legal world.
Why is paperless conveyancing (and, indeed, electronic processes generally) better for my business?
At First Class Legal, conveyancing is what we do and 95% of our business is residential “Mum and Dad” conveyancing. We do thousands of settlements each year and, in almost 4 years, we have grown from a single office to 5 offices and from half a dozen staff to just under 40 staff.
You cannot charge mega bucks for conveyancing in Victoria. In fact, for what we do, the price is way lower than it should be but that’s a topic for another day. In order to do our job properly and to be more profitable, we need efficiencies with cost and time.
The more productive our staff are, the better my business is.
The more automated our processes are, the better my business is.
The more streamlined our workflows are, the better my business is.
If I don’t have multiple staff compiling a contract – printing, photocopying, collating, binding, mailing – but I can have one staff member compile the contract electronically and another check it, then we are more efficient. My business is better.
If I don’t have key staff doing tedious tasks (such as printing, photocopying, collating, binding and mailing), they can be doing more stimulating tasks which makes them happier. My business is better.
The fewer mistakes we have in contracts (often caused by human error in re-keying data entry for example), the less unbillable time we have. My business is better.
In my experience, clients love the efficiency of electronic processes.
Let’s face it, people go house-shopping online, they may look for a mortgage broker online, they may use an online mortgage calculator, they may use the online SRO stamp duty calculator… they are happy for the legal process to be electronic too.
One thing to keep in mind is that, whilst the legal industry may be slow to adapt to technological change, other industries are not. Our clients are quite often tech- savvy (more so than we are) and embracing of anything that is electronic, easier and more efficient.
The experience at First Class Legal is that there has been no resistance from clients to electronic processes. The part of the process clients seem to like the least and complain about the most, is Verification of Identity!
Change can be confronting. Change can be scary.
BUT: Electronic signing technology is fast, secure, simple and intuitive. Electronically signed s32s and Contracts are more accurate and more efficient. There are time and cost efficiencies in moving to electronic platforms. You can increase productivity from your desk!
Times are changing fast – we do more and more online – on our smartphones in fact. Adapting to and embracing change is more essential now in property practice than ever before. Refusing to adapt (or even merely lagging behind) is a detriment to a property practitioner but also to the efficiency and margins of our businesses.
We do so much online in our personal lives – we use internet banking, we shop online, we plan and book holidays online, we shop for houses online, many of us use social media…
I started doing property settlements and Titles Office work in Victoria way back in 1983. The Titles Office then was up the road on Queen Street and was a rabbit warren of rooms and towers of paper. It was like something out of “Harry Potter”! Now, all we need do is go online, pay and voila – there’s the Title search. As an employer now, anything that achieves more accuracy and efficiency is a plus.
At First Class Legal, we are early adopters of electronic conveyancing. From that first PEXA talk we heard, we made a conscious decision to start to use PEXA and we started lodging Caveats as soon as that was possible.
We also made a conscious decision to settle electronically where we could. Our first Transfer was the first one done by an Incorporated Legal Practice in Melbourne back in April 2015.
We followed that up by being the first firm to do a fully paperless end to end electronic conveyance in Greensborough, Victoria in January this year.
As a policy at First Class Legal, we are now looking at every file as a PEXA file i.e. trying to settle via PEXA every time. The more of you who subscribe and are willing to give it a try, the easier that will be.
We have not had a single client object nor push back on the idea of settling electronically. Even older clients say they wonder why this could not happen before.
Try paperless conveyancing, embrace it (or at least parts of it) and also experience the benefits for your conveyancing business.
*Leonie Jarrett (pictured) is the Principal and Solicitor at First Class Legal. First Class Legal has 5 offices in Melbourne and practises almost exclusively in the conveyancing arena. Leonie’s background is as a general practice lawyer. She has been a business owner for nearly all of her professional career, the last 4 years as the co-owner of First Class Legal.
(c) 2017 Leonie Jarrett