Gary Donaldson: New world of fast-moving and exciting conveyancing

Gary Donaldson is head of product and innovation at land and property search organisation Millar & Bryce
Gary Donaldson is head of product and innovation at land and property search organisation Millar & Bryce
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WHEN we talk about modern conveyancing, those solicitors working in the field tend to fit into three broad categories.

Some see the commoditisation of transactions by bulk players like Purple Bricks – aided by the march of new and innovative technologies - as a major challenge. They can’t always get their head around the speed of change or the technology and they obsess about competitors and worry about becoming obsolete.

Others turn their heads away from change and do what they always did. Everything will be OK; I’ll just do the same and it will work out. Inevitably, it doesn’t.

The third category of conveyancing professional – by far the largest group – sees opportunity, not challenge. Its members understand technology will continue to march on and they seek to harness it in a way that best suits their business. At the same time, they recognise the areas where they can defeat the commoditised competition – strong relationships, excellent and ever-improving client service and local market knowledge.

I expect that all three of the categories of lawyer described above will attend our Modern Thinking in Conveyancing event in Glasgow on 5 September. They will hear from a range of excellent speakers, with a focus on practical advice – and some humour about when, as they do, things go wrong in conveyancing transactions.

Professor Roddy Paisley from the University of Aberdeen is always tremendous value – and while some find servitudes a rather arcane subject, he brings the topic to life like no-one else. Likewise, Stephen McGowan of TLT Solicitors will open delegates’ eyes with some practical and entertaining examples of licensing transactions.

Data, and how we use it, is bound to be a big issue at the event. The 2012 Act on Access to Accurate Plans, and boundary conflicts, will certainly be discussed, while there is a bigger picture in terms of the emerging opportunity to access a wide range of property-related data through ScotLIS – Scotland’s Land Information Service.

The initiative is due to be launched in November and represents another exciting development in the conveyancing field, with technology again at its heart.

When we talk about technology, it is easy to assume that it is the big firms who adopt early and use intelligently, but that is not always the case. There are small rural firms doing really clever things with technology and social media to engage successfully with clients. Such innovative approaches can increase efficiency and reduce costs –and when married with high-quality local knowledge and relationship building, this is a powerful combination.

We want delegates at the event to leave with some useful nuggets of knowledge, and to be inspired by stories of innovation and success. It is easy to be consumed by change – especially, at this moment in time, by Brexit and the uncertainties around it - but while the impending changes cannot be ignored, they are not as yet affecting levels of activity and there is genuine confidence in the market-place.

Modern conveyancing is fast-moving, exciting and ever-changing. Those who embrace change will continue to thrive.

Gary Donaldson is head of product & innovation at land and property search organisation Millar & Bryce. The company hosts Modern Thinking in Conveyancing at Glasgow Caledonian University on 5 September