Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Home Information Packs (HIPs) - Squeaky bum time for property lawyers & conveyancers

This summers big legal news.

Whilst the rest of the legal world in the UK is getting on with business as usual, our friends and colleagues on the property lawyer side of the fence are going through absolute turmoil.

For those who dont know - from June the 1st 2007, anyone selling a residential property in England & Wales will need to prepare a HIP for the benefit of a prospective buyer. The content of the pack has evolved over time and sadly has become somewhat diluted in terms of its efficacy. Many property lawyers / conveyancers believe it to be a complete waste of time, money and effort. Worst still is the accusation that the government have got this badly wrong and that they have completely wasted the opportunity to deal with serious property related consumer issues.

Some partners at our firm were taking part in a training course on HIPs last week when once again the soothsayers were dooming and glooming. There was even a suggestion that the packs simply would not / could not be implemented in time for 1st june deadline.

Its hard to believe that there would be a U turn at this last stage. Surely not?

More bad news seems to be the apparent threat that small - medium law firms now face from estate agents monopolising the whole process with the bigger outfits looking to offer free HIPs as an enticement for the client to sign up. The fees for many are already sqeezed as it is.

I dont know enough about the process to comment in too much depth. But I for one hope that estate agents do not take control of this market any more than they already have done.

Some reading:

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Looking for that perfect gift for a partner or colleague with just a smidgeon of humour........

Sometimes naff is good

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What to do with a trainee who has no interest in your department

Trainees - ive said many times on this blog - have a pretty hard time at most law firms. Its a rites of passage thing and unfortunately youve just got to get thru it.

Most trainees will be better for it because things can only get better. Some trainees will leave the job as a result of their experience and frankly tosspots like that we can do without anyway so no harm done. If you cant stand the heat as a trainee your unlikely to make the grade as a fully fledged lawyer. Most good trainees have nothing much to worry about, doff your cap, keep your head down and impress when the time comes.

Now I generally have a lot of time for trainees because Im not a dyed in the wool masochist like some at our firm. But I do have one pet hate and that concerns trainees who clearly couldnt give a toss about your beloved department as they pass thru on their training cycle.

I have a trainee at the moment who clearly does not want to be anywhere near the personal injury department. She is counting the hours until she departs and she's currently only 3 weeks into a 6 month stint.
After weeks of complete disinterest and barely concealed boredem, today I exploded and unfortunately had to chew her to pieces in front of the crew. It was no more than she deserved.
I spent half an hour trying to explain the not so finer points of working out a limitation date from the day of the incident. She just didnt get it and kept on fixing a date exactly 3 years hence instead of allowing for weekends, bank holidays and on one occasion Christmas day.
The lady is not only thick (she though a loss of amenity claim involved the closure of a local gym) but she has no interest in trying to learn.

What you should do is get your head down, pretend that the departmental job you are doing is THE most interesting legal job on the planet and oooh and aaaah every time someone mentions a decent settlement or quirky client story. Its the done thing.

What you dont do is make it plain that you are marking time, cant wait to ditch the department and head for the hallowed turf of conveyancing land or some other dark place at the earliest opportunity. This lady couldnt manage a shopping trip round Tescos without asking for help let alone deal with commercial law which is her "career goal"

Im sorry to say that today she finally provoked me into a two minute tirade. I pointed out that regardless of whether she likes PI or not - she is stuck here for 6 months with me and she has 1 week to show that she gives a damn otherwise her training contract is in the bin. If she doesnt even pretend to show a little interest she is out the f*ckin door. I will see to it personally.

She apologised weakly , looked around for sympathy, saw there was none available and then left for the loo bursting into tears before she got there.

She'll be spending more time in the loo if things dont improve rapidly.