For property buyers and sellers, the deliberation between getting a lawyer or a conveyancer often occurs as a result of the confusion between the nature of the services offered.

To make things clear – yes, there are differences between a lawyer and a conveyancer, despite some overlap in the services offered in line with property law. Having an understanding of these differences can go a long way in working out who is best suited to helping your situation, and how much you can expect to pay for the service.

What does a lawyer do?

Lawyers, or solicitors, are legal practitioners who have general knowledge and understanding of a broad range of legal topics from crime to wills and estates, and property transactions.

Most lawyers specialise in a particular field of practice — a criminal lawyer will deal with crime, and a corporate lawyer will deal with business contracts and disputes. Due to studies completed in property law as part of a 4-year law degree, a lawyer may also have the necessary qualifications and expertise to provide conveyancing services.

is a conveyancer a lawyer

What does a conveyancer do?

A conveyancer, on the other hand, is a legal professional who only operates in the area of property transactions. A conveyancer will not necessarily have any formal training in general law, but are qualified to perform legal work for property transactions such as the transfer of ownership between buyers and sellers.

The role of a conveyancer is to help streamline the property transaction process for both the buyer and the seller, particularly when it comes to fulfilling the complex legal requirements involved. Tasks that a conveyancer will usually offer as part of their service include:

Property contract reviews

A conveyancer will create and review property sale contracts with their client’s best interests in mind, taking action to amend clauses as necessary. They will also inform clients of potential obligations included in the contract before signing takes place. Contracts amended or created by conveyancers are valid in a court of law.

Making inquiries on property and land details

A conveyancer will help provide more context to the value of a transaction by obtaining details about the property’s location, such as flooding reports and council approvals.

Settlement documents preparation

A conveyancer will arrange a settlement date upon confirmation of the sale, provide a summary of payable funds, and ensure the successful transfer of the property ownership to the client.

Providing legal advice

As an expert in the field of property law, a conveyancer will deliver  expert legal advice on the terms of sale.

Difference between lawyers and conveyancers

There are three main areas of difference between a lawyer and a conveyancer — the scope of service, qualifications, and the costs involved.

Scope of service

As mentioned above, a conveyancer will only be able to advise you regarding property transactions. A lawyer, on the other hand, can provide this same advice, but may have a more generalised property law background. However, a lawyer’s overall qualifications mean that they can offer more broad advice on other legal areas that are related to the property transaction, such as an ownership transfer from a deceased estate.


A lawyer will have at least a bachelor’s degree in law, with at least 4 years of study that covers conveyancing. A conveyancer will have completed more focused studies specific to conveyancing. This will generally involve 2 years of study and a year of practical experience before students can apply for a full licence.


Generally, it will cost significantly more to work with a lawyer than to work with a conveyancer, due to the broader range of professional legal services they provide. A lawyer’s services are typically hired based on an hourly rate, meaning that the final cost of their services is not fixed and will depend on how long it takes to finalise the property transaction.

A conveyancer’s services typically cost between $500 – $2500, depending on the complexity of the transaction. If inquiries are performed on behalf of the client, they may also charge an additional cost for each search.

Do I need a conveyancer or a lawyer when buying a property?

When selling or buying a property, a critical part of the process is often left to a legal practitioner that provides expert guidance and assistance regarding the legal requirements of the transaction. The choice between a lawyer or a conveyancer will depend on your requirements, budget, and the transaction itself.

More complex property transactions that involve other legal matters will require the expertise of a lawyer to provide advice for those areas and, if necessary, provide representation. This can apply to off-the-plan purchases or properties with unclear zoning subdivisions, where the wider expertise of a lawyer can come in handy when unexpected issues arise.

If your property transaction is a straightforward one with no foreseeable disputes, then a conveyancer is the better option. Conveyancers are more familiar with the requirements and process for a property sale and can finalise the transaction quickly without any hiccups. In general, the cost of a conveyancer’s services can fit into most budget sizes, making them an affordable option when buying or selling a home.

Tips for finding the right property law specialist

Regardless of which type of legal practitioner you’ll engage for your real estate transaction, it’s important to end up with one that is competent and reliable enough to facilitate a smooth sale. Here are some tips to guide your search for a property law specialist:

Look for consistently good client reviews; these are green flags that signal credibility and a high level of service.
Make sure that expertise applies to the state where the property resides — different states have their own property ownership laws.
Have an initial consultation with your consultant to find out how they work, and if they are the right fit for your needs.
Discuss billing early to avoid unexpected invoices down the line.

If you’re looking for a conveyancer you can trust, we’re confident we can help. With over 100 glowing client reviews, we are the leading choice for both buyers and sellers in delivering property insights and legal expertise for transactions. Our services are available across Sydney and Melbourne — book a free initial consultationwith us today!

difference between a lawyer and conveyancer

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