Sue Fieldman finds discrimination by mortgage lenders against lawyers practising on their own

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GILLIAN COCKBURN has recently set up her own solicitor's firm in New Malden, Surrey. She is a one-woman band.

She specialises in trusts, probate and tax planning, but also wants to carry out conveyancing and related mortgage work for her clients.

Miss Cockburn says: 'The vast majority of sole practitioners are hard-working individuals with a real concern for their clients and the quality and reputation of their practice. But we have an uphill task ahead of us trying to convince lenders of our good faith.'

She praises societies such as Nationwide and Halifax, which are prepared to look at applications from sole practitioners on their merits.

However, she has found that others, such Woolwich, will not even consider applications from sole practitioners regardless of the quality of the applicant. Miss Cockburn says: 'Such blanket refusals are very shortsighted. They do nothing for consumer choice and will not weed out the very few practitioners who should not be admitted to lenders' panels.'

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