An altruistic Fairbridge’s conveyancer raises the bar in customer service

Nov 1, 2019 | 2019, News


Melanie Kilian, a conveyancer with heart from Fairbridges Wertheim Becker Attorneys in Cape Town, is an inspiration to her colleagues and clients. Her passion is to help and to give great service to people of all budgets, regardless of their background.

“At Fairbridges, we believe it is important to take on clients based on their needs, not on their money in the bank.”

Melanie has always had a keen interest in history and the law. She was the first in her family to pursue a career in the field inspired by her favourite legal television shows such as Matlock and LA Law. After she completed her schooling at Paarl Girls High, she studied for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Stellenbosch followed by her LLB degree.

Upon graduating, she joined a small firm at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, to complete her articles. While working at the firm she was exposed to the world of property, which would later define the course of her career. She would often attend sales in execution and assist with various other projects. After two years, she was offered an opportunity to establish a new firm in the Northern Suburbs, on condition she passed her conveyancing exam.

Melanie decided to take on the challenge and enrolled for the conveyancing exam. She knew it was not going to be easy, but with much determination and a great number of hours of study, she passed her exams with flying colours.

She took on a short-term position with another small firm in Cape Town. This was a huge turning point in her career: as it was here that she discovered her true love for property conveyancing. Although Melanie knew that she always wanted a career in law, she also knew that litigation was not for her. She then started the conveyancing department at another firm in the Northern Suburbs.

Six years later, she decided it was time to move on and she joined an all-female practice in Cape Town as an associate. This was a development firm that focused on conveyancing. Due to the emphasis on property developments, her enthusiasm for conveyancing grew stronger and she excelled in her work. But following the market recession in 2010, property developments decreased, and Melanie was looking for another challenge.

At the same time, Fairbridges Wertheim Becker was looking for a Conveyancer to take over the practice of one of their long-standing conveyancers and Melanie was the right fit for the position.

At Fairbridges Wertheim Becker, she faced challenges, rode a wave of achievements and has experienced career-altering experiences. Coming from a background of working for small law firms, working at Fairbridges exposed her to a wider field of law.

“Fairbridges has a variety of departments such as litigation, commercial, estate planning, intellectual property, family law and municipal law, “says Melanie, “which provides the opportunity to observe and experience other areas of law.”

Since joining Fairbridges Wertheim Becker, Melanie has had many opportunities that would not have been available at a smaller firm. Last year she assisted a client with the declaration of certain country areas as nature reserves.

“Your exposure to different types of clients and areas of law is broader, for instance, the litigation department would refer a property transaction which could involve residential as well as commercial property.”

When I took over the practice, I inherited work registering mortgage bonds for clients of a major bank. I had done mortgage bond registrations for other firms but dealing with bank clients was really interesting.

She describes conveyancing as a business. “They say conveyancers are like Switzerland,” smiles Melanie, “We act for both the property buyer and the seller on neutral ground.”

Property conveyancing involves defined steps and procedures – which suits Melanie’s “pedantic, OCD” character. “I like structure, I like routine. What’s wrong is wrong and what is right is right,” she says emphatically.

Customer service is an important focus area of Fairbridges Wertheim Becker and she would not have it any other way.

She gains job satisfaction from ensuring the right steps take place at the right time for the right outcome and in this way is able to provide consistently excellent client service.