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I have always been interested in property, principally from a very early age and having been brought up in Chester, an historic city with many ancient buildings. I originally wanted to be an architect, but I was put off by the school careers officer and ended up at Cheshire County Council instead, working in what was then called the clerks department at the age of 16. That department was the hub of the county council, providing legal and administrative facilities for the various departments and hosting the committee meetings.
Whatever I was doing right was recognised by two colleagues who were both qualifying to become solicitors. A year or so after I joined Cheshire County Council, those two colleagues left to set up their own firm of solicitors and shortly afterwards asked me if I’d like to go and work with them. That firm was Steggles & Mather, which became one of Chester’s best known and successful legal practices.
I’d been there about three years when I was asked if I’d like to train as a legal executive. I was not too enthusiastic about that. I had no real interest in the law other than where it dealt with real estate. Fortuitously, however, it was around that time that MP Austin Mitchell’s house buyers bill went through parliament which, for the first time, made it possible for people other than solicitors to carry out conveyancing work. It transpired that I could sit two exams – in accounting and general conveyancing practice – each of which I passed.
I was one of the very first intake of licensed conveyancers in 1987 and I will always be grateful to Austin Mitchell and his efforts, which enabled me to pursue my chosen career working in property law and provided the ability for there to be a qualification for individuals like me to become respected and to be appropriately rewarded.
My career, therefore, as a licensed conveyancer was launched.
Property law, to me, is one of the most interesting aspects of law, yet it is so often perceived as being boring. I think the only reason for that is people don’t understand what it involves.
Property law, to me, is one of the most interesting aspects of law.
When I started out, my youthful interest in listed buildings carried forward into the law and locally I became known as a bit of an expert on listed buildings (Chester city centre being full of them). I have always found it just interesting to read deeds and view the different manner of expression of necessary rights, covenants and other provisions within title documents. In those days, virtually every title was unregistered and the experience I gathered was invaluable.
What I find interesting is the ability to not only conclude a transaction involving what is for most people the most important purchase that they will make during their life, but also to sort out problems that might exist in the title to the property. I know that everything will be in order for when that particular property is next sold.
I will have been working in conveyancing for 50 years next year and I still enjoy it; it still gives me a buzz. The process of moving is often a stressful one – I can see it on people’s faces and hear it in their voices – and being able to take that stress away, and conclude that particular transaction, is always a good feeling.
Another enjoyable aspect is accessing the wealth of information available online these days meaning that I am constantly learning something new. There is not a day that goes by without the discovery of a new piece of information or procedural requirement needing to be considered for future transactions.
I am pleased to have been recognised by The Legal 500. I think it’s proof that if you’re willing to put in the effort then you can achieve an enjoyable and hugely satisfying, profitable and successful career as a licensed conveyancer.
Being able to take that stress away, and conclude that particular transaction, is always a good feeling.