Legists under lockdown: Meet Leanne Chan, Conveyancing Paralegal
From remote working to remote hearings, it is no secret that the current lockdown has caused a great deal of disruption in the legal sector. But how are legists navigating during these times? We gained insight from Leanne Chan, a Conveyancing Paralegal who shares her experience and provides advice for those who require legal services.
Tell us about yourself.
I am an LLB and LPC graduate but I am currently working as a Conveyancing Paralegal. I did my undergraduate degree in Law with Politics at University of Leicester, and my LPC at University of Law, Liverpool. Since I finished my studies, I have done some volunteering at Citizens Advice whilst applying for full-time legal roles and training contracts.
What is your current role and what does it consist of?
I currently work as a Conveyancing Paralegal, specialising in post-completion matters which involves taking on case files from application to register (registering the new homeowner’s name on the property) on the Land Registry, to closing down the files (archiving). The team I work with is quite small – there’s only three of us. We manage all the Residential Property Solicitors’ case files for post completion. Of course, due to the Stamp Duty holiday we have been getting very busy with even more new clients wanting to buy and sell houses, and it’s only going to get busier in the new year as the Stamp Duty holiday deadline looms closer!
How has the pandemic affected you both professionally and personally?
As I mentioned earlier, since finishing my LPC, I was looking for a full-time job around the Liverpool / Manchester area. It was a gruelling few months, receiving numerous rejection emails (I think I must’ve applied for 200-250 jobs), no matter how much effort I had put in for each of those applications. I was continuously met with “you don’t have enough / any experience in this field”. This was extremely frustrating and I was quickly losing hope on if I was ever going to find a full time legal position as at this point, I had been applying for 5 months.
After the new year, I finally had some luck and managed to secure myself two interviews and received a job offer from one of them in Manchester. I was elated – but sadly, I received this job offer a little too late. I was given the job offer this year in February, and was told to start in the third week of March of which the national lockdown had taken effect. Myself and my partner had found (what seemed at the time) a lovely house to live in in Manchester, ready for my new job. Not long after the lockdown had taken place, I was told by my new employer that my new position at the firm was uncertain, which forced myself and my partner to apply for Universal Credit so that we could pay for rent and bills (my partner was self-employed and lost all his work due to the lockdown).
A few months later, I had my job offer withdrawn. Although I knew that was going to happen, it didn’t make it any less disheartening to receive the news. So, I was back to square one looking for jobs once again. By this point, we were looking to move out of our house due to a number of issues with it – cockroach and slug infestations, electrical hazards whereby we had gone 5 days without electricity downstairs in the house and noisy neighbours who were extremely unpleasant, all along with having to deal with the most incompetent letting agent and landlord regarding those issues.
As a whole, this pandemic has challenged me both professionally and personally. Not only was it difficult having myself and my partner both losing our work, but we also had to endure what I could only describe as, the house from hell. I can only think to myself now, that nothing could be as horrific to live through as what we have endured during the lockdown in that house. It was a shame because I was really excited to live in Manchester and for what it had to offer as a city. We have since moved back home to Leicester, but will be relocating to Birmingham soon for me to start my new position as a Lease Management Coordinator at an excellent Commercial Property specialist company, of which I am extremely excited to start next January.
How are you adjusting to WFH?
Unfortunately, due to the nature of my job having to work on physical files, my job can’t be done from home. I think with some re-jigging from the firm, my job could definitely be done from home. I actually had Covid a few weeks ago and I insisted I worked from home instead of taking sick days, even though my employer wasn’t sure how I’d be able to. Either way, I found a way and liaised with my teammate who was in the office to scan things through to me, for me to work on for my entire isolation period. I know some firms offer a system for those who work on physical files, where you can come into the office once a week or fortnight to scan the things you need for the next week / couple of weeks so you can work on them electronically on your laptop from home. This is definitely something more firms should look into, especially with the current climate of COVID-19 and the uncertainty it presents for the future of workplaces.
What advice would you give to those who require legal services during this time?
For those who require legal services – just bear with us. Most sectors are extremely busy at the moment, legal professionals might take longer than usual to respond to enquiries or to progress with case files. With an influx of new clients after lockdown, especially in Conveyancing, firms are trying to adjust to the new busy environment and thinking of different ways to manage the workflow and ensure that it works efficiently for everyone. We’re all new to this, so the least we can do is be patient and understanding.