This question has recently been asked by a conveyancing solicitor who has taken the plunge and relocated to Spain to enjoy a significantly warmer climate and a complete change of lifestyle.
The conveyancer is specifically interested in working on a remote basis for UK law firms, because he has noticed a recent increase in the number of remotely based conveyancers. So as he is based in Spain, is it possible and is there plenty of work?
Remote Working for Conveyancers?
The answer is yes and no. Firstly it is perfectly possible for someone to work anywhere in the world on a remote basis, and there have been law firms in recent times who seem to have embraced this and encouraged their staff to be based from home working on particular aspects of the conveyancing process. We have come across title searching work, post-completion and pre-exchange work all being outsourced to lawyers working from home and being paid on a piecemeal basis for specific tasks.
The money does not appear to be particularly good, and most of the firms we have come across doing it don’t appear to have that much work to outsource. This is evidenced by the fact that most seem to do the work around full time locum assignments. These tasks are being done remotely as firms get increasingly better at using modern technology to increase productivity.
However, we have worked with conveyancers based in Spain before and to date I have not come across one who has managed to pick up remote work for UK law firms. This may just be our own experience and there may be plenty of conveyancers dotted all over Spain and the rest of Europe undertaking conveyancing work of course (let us know if this is you!), but we have not come across any. We are aware of one conveyancer who travels back to the UK in order to work sporadically as a locum, but this tends to be for a week here and there rather than for any remote work.
Why are there so few overseas remote conveyancers?
I think the problem is that firms are concerned about sending any files, confidential documents or client material offshore (‘offshore’ is used for any jurisdiction outside England and Wales) as there are all kinds of confidentiality issues arising, and of course GDPR scared the pants off everybody a few years ago in relation to losing documents or files and getting into trouble for it. I know that there have been law firms who have looked at putting their back office in places like India to undertake administrative tasks and free up the front office to spend more time doing business development and client facing work, but I have not seen any evidence of this occurring en masse in the legal profession so far.
So the answer to this particular enquiry as to whether a conveyancer can be living in Spain and undertaking UK conveyancing work, the answer is yes of course you can but the difficulty would be actually finding any law firms who want to provide the work. So if you are thinking of moving to Spain and then looking for work, chances are you will end up assisting expatriates also living in Spain and travelling back to cover weekly assignments in traditional law firms.