If you’ve ever purchased or sold property, you’ve probably seen the terms ‘property lawyer’ and ‘conveyancer’, perhaps even used interchangeably. Although you may think they perform the same role, they do have different areas of expertise. They also have different qualifications and charge different fees.
Similarly, there are situations where it is definitely preferable to hire one over the other. For example, a lawyer would be the best choice if you’re unsure of terms in the contract for sale.
The distinction can be difficult to grasp when both appear to be offering essentially the same service for property transactions. In this article, we’ll breakdown the difference between conveyancers and property lawyers – so you know who to hire, and when.
Conveyancing refers to the legal work undertaken every time ownership of a property is exchanged. Conveyancing work is transactional, but also requires a good attention to detail and efficiency.
Conveyancers are professionals who specialise in the real property law of conveyancing. Conveyancing is a transactional process, which involves strong legal elements. Non-lawyers were authorised to undertake the legal work involved in property transactions under legislation passed in 1992.
Conveyancers complete a one year diploma course and an additional year of supervised training. Their tasks may include completion and lodgement of relevant documents, inquiries around the zoning and title, and preparing a settlement statement. Conveyancers may work on property transactions provided they don’t overstep the boundaries outlined in the Conveyancers Act 1919 (NSW). Other states also have equivalent legislation outlining the role and regulations applicable to conveyancers.
A lawyer is someone who has completed a Bachelor of Laws and been admitted to the legal profession. Many lawyers will specialise in certain areas, and conveyancing lawyers will be most effective when obtaining representation for a property transaction.
Lawyers can work with unlimited scope on conveyancing work. They can advise clients on the wider implications of their sales and purchases within the relevant jurisdiction.
To be a lawyer, a person needs to have completed a Bachelor of Laws or a Juris Doctor degree. After completion, they will then need to undertake a Graduate Diploma in Practical Legal Training (PLT). This course requires students to undertake practical legal work and submit assignments. After this, an aspiring lawyer must apply to the admissions board of their State and be accepted into the profession.
Lawyers will then determine their speciality based on their training, employment, and vocational interests. Although a lawyer can specialise in many areas, they cannot claim or act as an expert in an area of law they are unfamiliar with.
Which one is right for me?
Each person’s needs are different when they are completing a property transaction. In order to decide which one is best for your needs, you will need to consider your budget, the complexity and size of the transaction, and whether you may require further representation. If your matter is purely subject to the exchange of documents and the purchase or sale of a property, then a conveyancer will be suitable. However, if there are any matters you are uncertain of or any issues in your contract, then you may want to seek professional legal advice. If you decide you would like professional legal guidance regarding your property matter, we can connect you with experienced property lawyers.
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