How to Hire a Real Estate Attorney

If you need a real estate transaction performed or have a tricky land use problem, a real estate lawyer can answer your questions, draft any necessary documents, and save you a lot of money and headache in the long term. However, picking an attorney to represent you can seem daunting unless you know the right steps to take and questions to ask.

In order to help you identify what you need to do in order to interview and hire a real estate attorney, follow the below five steps:

The Five Steps to Choose A Real Estate Attorney

1.  Get Recommendations. Often the best recommendations come from trusted friends, family members or colleagues. You should ask around and see if anyone has used a real estate attorney who they trust and like. Because most people do not need a real estate attorney every day, you may be surprised to find out someone you know used a real estate attorney in the past.

2.  Local Bar Association Referral Panel. Many local bar associations have a referral panel. You simply call up the local bar association, describe your legal situation, and they will refer you to a pre-screened lawyer in your area. This works for other areas of law as well. In addition, if you have limited income, you may try your local Legal Aid clinic, which may have volunteer attorneys you can use for a short consultation.

3.  Check out Online Resources. There are numerous online resources for evaluating and choosing an attorney, including Martindale-Hubbel, Lawyers.com, and the relatively new lawyer directory Avvo.com. Most attorneys have websites or blogs which you can check out and use to learn about the lawyer. You should read up on the lawyer’s website or blog to see if they have written about real estate issues.

4.  Ask other Real Estate Professionals for a Recommendation. If you have a trusted real estate agent or broker, you may want to ask them for a recommendation.  You can also ask your CPA or accountant if they have experience working with any real estate attorneys.

5.  Prepare Questions. You should put together a short list of the attorneys you want to interview and prepare a list of questions. You may want to ask how much the lawyer charges, what experience they have working on matters similar to your own, and whether they have other attorneys working with them at their firm. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the attorney for their opinion what you need to do to achieve your goals, including whether you even need to hire an attorney. Often if the matter is simple or straightforward, the attorney may advise you that you don’t need to hire an attorney to get your goals accomplished.

After you have followed the above five steps, you should call up 3-4 attorneys and find out if they will either meet with you or speak over the phone. Most lawyers will answer simple questions over the phone for free or offer a short complimentary meeting to see if they are a good fit.

Finally, take the time to meet with at least a couple of attorneys and find out who is a good fit. Often, the right attorney for you is simply one who you feel comfortable working with. A trusting working relationship is key to getting value out of your real estate attorney.

Do you have any additional resources or suggestions for hiring a good real estate attorney? Please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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