Conveyancing caseloads are nearing an all-time high, despite transactions slowing.
According to Today’s Conveyancer, using statistics from Search Acumen’s latest Conveyancing Market Tracker (CMT), caseloads increased 9% quarter-on-quarter between Q4 of 2022 and Q1 of 2023. This comes as transactions fall nearly 29% between December and February.
So, what does this mean for the average law firm? They will or are seeing a case uplift of 84 cases per quarter – more than double the average caseload they may have seen a decade ago and perhaps the second-highest average per quarter since records began in 2011.
This is according to Search Acumen, who noted an 8% dip in active property firms during the last decade, with the average number of cases rising per quarter by 93% in the same period.
It’s been stated that this uplift is causing increased pressure on conveyancing firms, particularly those doubling their caseload from 40-45 cases. Despite the current economic conditions, caseloads are near historical volumes, reflects the ongoing imbalance between case volumes and the number of active firms to close them.
While active firm numbers have now recovered to pre-pandemic levels – increasing by 2% from well over 3.5k in Q1 of 2019 to just over 4k in Q1 in 2023 – this rise falls far short of enabling firms to keep pace with the sale of long-term growth in caseloads, according to Search Acumen, who suggest there is an ‘imbalance’ between total case volumes and the number of active firms available to handle them.
Andy Sommerville, Director of Search Acumen, says, “Even though market activity has slowed in the current economic climate, processing backlogs create a compounding effect, meaning caseloads for property lawyers remain high by historic standards. This brings about a paradox in that law firms remain incredibly busy almost regardless of wider market conditions.”
With this in mind, what can law firms do with the increased stress on their firms and team? We’ve put together a small list of pointers that may be helpful.
Regular check-ins with staff members individually: This might seem standard practice already for you and your team, but when workloads are heavy and time seems of the essence, this can fall by the wayside. Setting some time aside, whether it once a week, bi-weekly or once a month, to check in on your team on a one-to-one basis can help foster a healthy work environment where staff feel valued and gives them a space to say what might be bothering them or stopping them from performing at their best. As a team, you can identify solutions to problems before they become overwhelming, and by problem-solving quickly, you can keep your team happy and motivated.
Capacity to hire more members: If you are fortunate enough to hire more people, do so! Whilst it might take valuable time initially to welcome and train a new team member, it will help alleviate pressure in the long run by distributing workloads to a manageable level.
Look at adopting technology to automate mundane processes: Here at Hoowla, we specialise in software that streamlines and speeds up the transaction process. We offer a cloud-based system that your team can access remotely and within the office. The software provides automatic workflows where welcome packs, forms and documents can be sent automatically at the push of a button. Documents and emails can be hosted and edited within the Hoowla platform, removing the need to move from program to program. Teams can work collaboratively by performing conflict checks, assigning tasks, leaving notes and attaching bills to individual cases. AML checks can be initiated within the platform via our integrations. Managers and teams can edit and send Land Registry and SDLT documents to clients and authorities at the push of a button. Teams can manage office and client accounts and write or edit invoices within Hoowla. Managers and teams can generate reports at any time to identify areas of improvement or check in on general firm health. Hoowla offers many more features to help speed up the conveyancing process, allowing your team to close cases quickly and relieve the pressure of increasing workloads.
We have thousands of happy Hoowla users that have been able to boost their team’s motivation and achieve their growth trajectory whilst still making money. If you’re interested in what Hoowla offers and want to know more about how it could benefit your firm and team, why not book a free, no-obligation demo?
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