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Licensed Conveyancer

Licensed Conveyancer

Tell me about it
Licensed conveyancers are specialist property lawyers working on behalf of clients who are buying or selling property. They deal with all the legal matters, paperwork and queries involved in a property transaction.

The work is generally office-based and involves such things as conducting searches into the ownership of properties, their leasehold or freehold status, likely planning changes, rights of way, checking the new owner's liability for unsound building structures and repairs, planned changes to roads and highways and local factory and property developments. 

Entry level
In England and Wales, the minimum entry requirements are four GCSEs (A*-C) or equivalent, including English. However, many people who enter this career have more than the minimum qualifications, for example legal executive qualifications or a law degree. You can claim exemption from the foundation stage of training if you have relevant legal experience or a law degree.

Making the grade
In England and Wales, you would start work in conveyancing and study part time at college or through the CLC distance learning course to qualify. In addition to passing the examinations, you must spend at least two years in practical training with a 'qualified employer'.

The CLC examinations are in two parts:

  • Foundation consists of two assignment subjects: Introduction to Licensed Conveyancing, and Conveyancing Practice and Procedure, plus two examination subjects - Land Law, and the Law Of Contract
  • Finals consist of three examination subjects: Conveyancing Law and Practice, Landlord and Tenant, and Accounts.

Once your first licence has been granted, you must stay in employment for a further three years to become eligible to apply for a full licence. This allows you to set up in business as a sole practitioner, in partnership or as a recognised body (limited company).

Personal qualities
As a licensed conveyancer, you would need to be well organised in order to deal efficiently with the large amount of paperwork involved.  Attention to detail would be important to avoid potentially costly errors in the documents you are preparing.  At times these documents could be quite complex, so you would need to have the patience and perseverance necessary to work your way through them.  In addition, you would need good communication skills to explain legal matters to your clients.  If you establish yourself as an independent practitioner, you would need commercial skills to run your own business. The CLC will not approve your licence until it is satisfied that you are a 'fit and proper person' to practise as a licensed conveyancer.

Looking ahead
This is a relatively new profession, which started in 1987 after the law was changed to end the effective conveyancing monopoly held by solicitors. The number of practising conveyancers is now growing and the qualification is becoming increasingly sought after, both by people wishing to practise on their own account and by employers responsible for providing legal services.

The housing market suffered considerably during the 2008-10 recession, with a massive drop in sales, widespread redundancies, falling house prices and potential buyers finding great difficulty in securing mortgage finance. For a number of years before that, however, the market had been extremely buoyant and all the indicators suggest that it will be again in the near future.  If you pursue a career in conveyancing, you must accept that this is a field that fluctuates and that your prospects and your pay could rise or fall in relation to the volume of property transfers.

You can run your own practice as a full licence holder, whereas you would otherwise work for a 'qualified employer' – who could be a licensed conveyancer, solicitor, local authority, bank or building society, provided that an appropriately qualified conveyancer or solicitor is head of the legal department.

Alternative suggestions
Other possibilities might include accountant, civil servant, insurance broker, insurance underwriter, legal executive or solicitor.

Take-home pay
In general, salaries for trainees tend to be around £15,000 to £20,000, while those for qualified licensed conveyancers vary considerably according to status. Employed conveyancers may be salaried or paid on a commission basis. A licensed conveyancer with 10-15 years’ experience is likely to earn £30,000 to £50,000. A partner or owner of a conveyancing firm could earn around £60,000.

Licensed conveyancers normally work 37 hours a week from Monday to Friday. You might have to work late or take work home during busy periods. Some employers offer a seven-day-a-week service, so you might have to work some weekends.
It might be possible to work flexible hours. Part-time work and job sharing are often available. Self-employed conveyancers tend to work much longer hours, often taking work home.

Sources of information
Council for Licensed Conveyancers:




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