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Looking Ahead: 2021 Predictions

Rob Gurney, Managing Director of Ochresoft – the legal case management and workflow specialist – offers his views on what the coming year may have in store for property lawyers:

“If ever there was a catalyst for real change in our industry, the experiences of 2020 must surely be it. The growing automation of legal processes will allow firms to reliably and consistently cope with future volume fluctuations, such as those we have witnessed this year during the Covid pandemic.

Automation also offers the opportunity to finally address the annual seasonality problems that residential property lawyers and conveyancers face. Utilising more advanced technology correctly has the potential to ensure that high standards of legal work and customer service are both maintained during periods of extreme demand, without the need for yo-yo hiring and firing that we typically see when peaks and troughs occur.

Technology will continue to play an increasingly important role for law firms looking to streamline as many tasks or processes as possible – not only from speed and efficiency points of view, but more importantly they ensure high compliance standards throughout, so nothing is inadvertently missed or allowed to execute incorrectly.

As far as the market itself is concerned, 2021 remains a difficult year to predict as it greatly depends upon the Government’s decision on whether to extend the Stamp Duty Land Tax and Land Transaction Tax holiday incentive.

If the Government stands firm on the 31st March deadline, I foresee that the residential conveyancing industry will continue to be placed under immense strain right up until this point, followed by a significant drop-off in new instructions.

The ramifications of this would be tough for the industry, with tight profit margins meaning that firms may not be able to sustain a significant reduction in volumes from April onwards.  We therefore await further updates in the New Year to see what transpires and sincerely hope that the Government makes adjustments to soften the impact of the cliff edge deadline.”

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