PROPERTY BOOM PUTS PARALEGALS IN BIG DEMAND

by Scott Douglas

Monday, July 12th, 2004

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SCOTLAND’S ever-growing housing market might be good news for anyone looking to sell their house, but it has also sparked a boom in the need for staff specialising in property conveyancing.

Over a typical week in Edinburgh alone there are some 360 property transactions, with an increasing percentage of the conveyancing work – the necessary legal work behind a property sale or purchase – being carried out by paralegals.

Paralegals have now emerged as the unseen workhorses behind the current property boom – ensuring a property transaction passes seamlessly and that all the legal documents are in order.

And with the housing boom showing no signs of letting up, paralegals specialising in conveyancing are finding their services in high demand.

Although the job term first surfaced in the US, paralegals – or legal assistants – are now hugely important members of any legal firm or legal department in Scotland.

While lawyers assume ultimate responsibility for legal work, they often delegate many of their tasks to paralegals. In fact, paralegals continue to assume a growing range of tasks in legal offices and perform many of the same tasks as lawyers.

But it is in the property sector, that paralegals are enjoying most prominence.

One company, which is having to swell its number of paralegals to cope with the property boom, is The PSM Law Group, which has offices in Edinburgh, Dunfermline and Falkirk.

Through its specialist PSM Online division, the company is one of the UK’s biggest high volume conveyancing experts, using state-of-the-art computer technology to handle around 3000 conveyancing cases a month for clients of some 18 High Street lenders and countless smaller brokers.

But on a local level its domestic conveyancing team – lead by Partner Angela McFarlane and her team of paralegals – processes more than 1300 conveyancing cases every year that come through its Hunters-psm solicitor-estate agency division.

Such has been the growth of the Hunters-psm division, that The PSM Law Group is now looking to expand its operations by creating a new conveyancing team in their recently opened PSM-Moore Marshall Falkirk office.

Partner Kenny Marshall, who is  charge of the new operation, said they regularly have a number of vacancies for paralegals stemming from their conveyancing business and it is hoped the opening of the Falkirk team will help to ease that problem area.

Legal PR photography for merger of PSM Law Group and MooreMarshall

He said: “Paralegals now play an integral part in the successful operation of a legal department, be it in a legal firm, corporate company or public sector body.  In our case, they are invaluable in providing an informative and efficient service to clients from start to finish in relation to all aspects of house purchase and sale.

“Their duties and responsibilities are considerable and varied, taking in such areas as meeting the clients, instructing surveyors, drafting the dispositions and security deeds to completing the missives.   With this team in place we envisage increasing the number of conveyancing cases we process to 2500 a year.

“Clearly with the property market on a seemingly non-stop upwards spiral, there appears to not let up in the need for conveyancing, and therefore the need for paralegals.”

Mr Marshall said that companies such as The PSM Law Group have found that while hiring paralegals do lower the costs, compared to the cost of employing solicitors, they in turn greatly increase the availability and efficiency of legal services to clients.

He added: “We envisage this conveyancing team being made up of 12 people, one lawyer with seven paralegals and four support staff.  So immediately, this development has created a number of vacancies for paralegals.  We hope that our central location in Falkirk will make our company attractive to anyone living in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth or Stirling.

“We firmly believe this is an excellent career opportunity.  Our company offers a good salary (can we give a payscale indicator), a well defined career path, entry to a pension scheme and team bonuses.”

Mr Marshall added that scope exists in their company for paralegals to progress rapidly and, if required, to undertake training to qualify as lawyers.

He added: “This really is an exciting time for anyone interested in becoming a paralegal.  They are heavily in demand and the prospects are exceptional.”

The PSM Law Group is one of Scotland’s most innovative legal firms.  Using the company’s groundbreaking technology, clients have 24-7 access to their case files via the internet. Customers no longer have to wait for letters informing them of case developments, they can simply log on, using a secure password, and view their case details online. They can also be informed of developments via email or text message.

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Scott Douglas, of public relations agency Holyrood PR in Scotland

Scott Douglas

Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood Partnership, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.

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