Recently, for the first time, I’m involved in a stressy legal transaction. I’ve sold one property, and I’m buying another – when I bought the first property, I was a first time buyer: no chain, no issues, just finances to get sorted, and conveyancing fees to pay. This time around, I have the finances of the property I’m leaving (along with any final bill from the Totally Incompetent and Deeply Hated Factoring Company) to deal with, a new mortgage to apply for, the transfer of the old mortgage from the old mortgage company to the new mortgage company, the transfer of mortgage cash and deposit to the owner of the property I’m buying, and legal/conveyancing fees for buying and selling to cover. So, while one property’s definitely sold, I’m still waiting for confirmation of the one that I’ve bought is officially bought.
Now, as a librarian, I deal with information. My users ask me for information all the time, and I try and get it for them. Sometimes, this information can take longer to get, or is trickier to source than expected. I know my users have various others depending on them, so they need to know when they’ll get that information, or at least be able to tell interested parties that they are working on the issue, and hope to give them a response in X hours/days. So I try and ensure that my users know how long something might take, or if something’s taking longer than expected, I’ll call/email to let them know I’m working on it. It’s important to pass on that sort of thing, as, even if your update is “I’ve been busy, I’ve not started this yet, but expect to be able to get to it this afternoon/tomorrow morning” etc, then everyone’s kept informed, and able to explain to others what’s going on.
My lawyer (and, it appears, most lawyers involved in conveyancing transactions) do not share this approach.
Today I emailed after 8 days without contact (and I move out/in in 14-16 days), to be told, effectively “things are happening, but nothing worth telling you about yet”. Which is fine – things are moving along as they should. But as a user, I would prefer to have been given an occasional contact which said something along those lines, to reassure me that there was progress. Instead, I have been gradually fretting more and more that I am going to be homeless/the sale will fall through/I’ll need to find temporary accommodation and storage for my belongings/where will everything go/how will I continue to get to work/I don’t have enough holidays to cover 2 moving dates, until I finally contacted my solicitor for an update.
Is it a cultural thing? Are librarians trained to make information sharing easier, and are therefore more open about the information they have, and when it will be available to their users, while lawyers focus on commercial secrets, and making sure their profession has some sort of air of mystery? One where solicitors are beavering away in darkened offices, doing arcane Legal Things that us plebs just wouldn’t be able to understand, so there’s no point telling us about them?