I think this is my 3rd post rambling on about the conversations I’ve had with clients over the last few months.
I try to speak with as many clients as I can, simply to get a feel for how they’re holding up, and what they see happening in the market.
Residential Conveyancing Slows Down
Last time (https://www.thecashroom.co.uk/an-anecdotal-review-of-the-market/) I reported on the conveyancing boom. But over the last few months clients I’ve spoken with have reported that things are starting to calm down. Nobody has seen the dramatic fall some feared, nor any marked increase in mortgage defaults or insolvency (“yet” perhaps!), but there are fewer instructions and fewer completions.
One client opined – “the residential guys are fooling themselves if they think this will continue – we’re keeping our costs low and our heads down”.
Personal injury clients have been hit by a “treble whammy”. First, fewer people were injured during lockdown, second, legislative changes have made it harder (although not impossible) to recover anything like reasonable costs, and thirdly, lockdown induced court delays mean insurers are much slower to settle, making it very difficult to convert WIP into cash.
One client reported they were convinced insurers were delaying payment simply to try and “starve out” smaller firms.
Some clients are moving on from road traffic claims to the “next big thing”. I spoke with one who had some very interesting ideas … thankfully none of them involved GDPR claims!!
Corporate/Commercial is “Steady”
I’ve heard mixed reports on corporate and commercial work. Some clients are incredibly busy, but there’s a worry it’s simply deals delayed from last year coming through.
Commercial Property is quiet, and there’s still a lot of worry about the future.
Private Client work is “where it’s at”
Every client I speak with who does private client work (broadly wills, trust, probate/executries, power of attorney) has had a good year. Nothing like a global pandemic to make one face one’s mortality! In fact, private client work has been an extremely good “hedge” against down turns in other areas – like a good solid bond holding in an equity portfolio!
But what I’ve found very interesting is the success of some clients in this sector, specialising in a couple of very narrow areas, and doing some really innovate things with technology to “leverage” their skills.
And finally, family law continues to outperform. Turns out being locked down with somebody you don’t like makes you want to leave them!
It’s also an area keeping a few litigation practices alive! Indeed, 2 clients I spoke with plan to open a family law practice with lateral hires (if they can find them!), again because of the “hedge” it provides against down turns in other areas.
And that’s it, a quick round up of what my sample’s saying in the last quarter of 2021.
And one more thing.
Take some time over Christmas and New Year. Another, worrying theme of many of my calls is “burn out”. We have gone through a stressful and bruising couple of years. Take time to spend with friends and family over the holidays and remember why you do what you do.
Have a great Christmas and New Year