Jonathan Achampong, Partner at Wedlake Bell LLP discusses the impact of technology on the home buying process and how law firms can embrace change to benefit consumers

Jonathan Achampong, Partner at Wedlake Bell LLP discusses the impact of technology on the home buying process and how law firms can embrace change to benefit consumers. 

In an interview with Modern Law magazine Jonathan Achampong, Partner at Wedlake Bell LLP discusses the impact of technology on the home buying process and how law firms can embrace change to benefit consumers. 

Over the past two or three decades, the use of technology has dramatically changed the way we live and work. From the laptop on our desk to the smartphone in our hand; or from the way we manage our bank accounts to our ability to work remotely, technology has changed the way we communicate and get things done.

Today’s world dictates that businesses must be ready to adopt the necessary procedures, practices and technologies that will allow them to provide a fast, efficient and high-quality service.

In recent years, many commentators have speculated about how legal proptech innovations – such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and blockchain – are likely to revolutionise the home buying process. However, in the mind of a busy conveyancer, such future gazing can sometimes trigger a sense of scepticism regarding the practical application of these innovations. After all, understandably, a conveyancer might be more concerned about meeting an ambitious exchange deadline on a new build flat than they are about facilitating the execution of a smart contract.

Today’s home buyers are increasingly tech-savvy

Newcomers to the process are often stunned by how mysterious and antiquated the conveyancing process appears to be. In a service-driven 

“Newcomers to the process are often stunned by how mysterious and antiquated the conveyancing process appears to be. In a service-driven business such as conveyancing, practices that fail to respond to clients’ needs are almost certainly doomed to struggle”

“However, the collaboration between conveyancers and technologists means that within the next five years, we are likely to see increasingly practical ways that legal proptech will assist conveyancers”

Business such as conveyancing, practices that fail to respond to clients’ needs are almost certainly doomed to struggle. To put it another way, it’s easy for law firms to take the view that they have achieved success without aggressively adopting new technologies but being closed-minded about the benefits of legal proptech is unlikely to be a strategy that leads to long-term success.

So, what’s on the horizon? 

It’s probably fair to say that the aspirations of proptech providers range from wildly ambitious to sensibly pragmatic. While there’s a sense of inevitability to the use of smart contracts and blockchain, most conveyancers are more likely to be immediately assisted by the benefits derived from increasingly sophisticated case management systems that streamline processes and help to keep clients in the loop about the progress of their transaction. 

However, the collaboration between conveyancers and technologists means that within the next five years, we are likely to see increasingly practical ways that legal proptech will assist conveyancers. For example, there are platforms that exist today that enable property lawyers to have access to instant and rich property datasets that help to speed up the conveyancing process. 

Going forward

Without wishing to trigger the aforementioned scepticism, conveyancers should be aware that advances such as smart contracts, blockchain, property logbooks and tokenised property will almost certainly transform the process of legal due diligence for property transactions. Accordingly, law firms should remain open to and embrace change where this is likely to help them work more efficiently and deliver a better service to clients.

Jonathan Achampong is a Partner at Wedlake Bell LLP