Friday 13th – Be afraid, be very afraid

I’m not normally a superstitious person.  Friday 13th generally doesn’t hold any concern for me.  But the developments in the legal world this week, may lead me to revising my thinking.  Could this Friday 13th go down as one of the unluckiest days ever for lawyers and the old school legal regime?

In particular, I’m talking about the double whammy of news this week.  Firstly that the SRA have (finally) opened their doors to ABS applicants, and in less than a fortnight the reports are that more than 50 applications have been received.  Many, of course will be keen to capitalise on the early adopter advantage, but this is still a significant number.  Any observers who thought ABS would not attract a large take up were wrong.  We can expect to feel their impact sooner rather than later.  Existing lawyers need to have a clear vision of their strategic response to the new entrants now.

The other news this week which is of particular concern to high street practitioners is that HSBC have set up a panel of just 40 lawyers to be dealing with their purchase conveyancing for their mortgage customers.

If the other major lenders follow suit then the residential conveyancing industry as we know it in England and Wales will effectively come to and end.   Whether conveyancing in its current form is fit for purpose is a debate for another day, but be aware if HSBC’s stance becomes industry norm,then this will mean job losses in the thousands for existing conveyancers, and the diminishing of the “bread and butter” income from conveyancing which supports the cashflow of firms up and down the country.  This is very serious news and I’m afraid to say that the Law Society’s response, “raising concerns” about HSBC’s move, is nowhere near robust enough and will do nothing to protect their members.

Lawyers, today of all days, I strongly urge you not to be walking under any ladders, and avoid at all costs magpies and broken mirror: at least until midnight has passed.

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