Should the law just be about solving problems and dealing with the bad things in life, or should it also be a means to a positive end?
When I first joined a law firm after gaining my professional qualifications, the firm, in Birmingham, specialised in litigation but also had a small department dealing with conveyancing. I found that I became more attracted to the conveyancing rather than the litigation which set me on the course of being a property lawyer.
My father had a background in supermarkets, so one might say I inherited a “consumerist” view of life and it seemed to me that when people moved house it was a sign of their aspirations in life being fulfilled. Instead of a forum for disputes, here was the law actually helping people achieve those ambitions. In other words, (and using a rather cheesy phrase), we were “making their dreams come true”.
In the early 1980s it was not always possible to get a mortgage – they were rationed, and we used to spend time contacting local building societies finding out if they had had any funds released to them for use by our clients. Clients were expected to have saved up a considerable amount with their lender before a mortgage offer would even be considered.
The parallels with today’s housing scene are obvious. It is the lenders who ultimately control the housing market and until they feel more relaxed about lending, difficulties will continue and the housing market will stagnate. Borrowers need to have significant deposits and first time buyers will now often take advantage of their parents’ generosity in helping them get on the housing ladder.