Finding an attorney - Posted by Tara

Posted by MoniqueUSA on June 17, 2001 at 21:50:03:


Finding an attorney - Posted by Tara

Posted by Tara on June 16, 2001 at 22:34:57:

I need to find an attorney for my real estate transactions. What should I look when chosing a real estate attorney? Does anyone have an attorney in Salt Lake they can recommend>

Thanks for your help!

Re: What to look for in a RE lawyer - Posted by sueC

Posted by sueC on June 17, 2001 at 06:57:15:

Tara, good question, I don’t think this comes up much.

As a corporate lawyer myself, here’s what I looked for when seeking out an attorney. Find a lawyer who:

  1. Spends 60% or more of his practice doing ONLY real estate. Lots of general practitioners will tell you yes, they can do closings, trusts, etc., but they are actually learning on your nickel.

  2. Has been doing RE law for at least 5 years.

  3. Is recommended by other experienced investors you know. Contacts through your local RE association are valueable here.

  4. Is a member of the local REIA.

  5. Invests in real estate.

  6. Has several if not many full time, professional RE invstors as clients. Ask about some of their clients. You want to hear that they represent individuals with everyting from Section 8 portfolios to rehabbers to strip malls and other commercial stuff. You’ll know they’ve been tried and tested!

  7. Is on the RE committee of your local bar association, or is involved in running or developing the continuing legal ed courses for the county. Those are classes taught by lawyers for lawyers, and the guy who’s running them will know his stuff. The county bar association shoud be able to help you find those people.

  8. Works for himself, or is a partner in a small firm. While you might find someone very expereinced in a big major law firm, they will charge you like crazy. A big firm letterhead is absolutely NO guarantee of quality. In my opinion, lawyers running their own shops are closer to the businessman’s mindset, because they have to run a business too. They are more flexible, and willing to work with you on price and more. They don’t have to answer to managing partners, or hoardes of other partners demanding certain profit margins.

  9. Is willing to listen to you about certain creative transactions. Things like lease/options, double closing, setting up a land trust, 1031 exchanges, creating paper, holding your deposits in escrow instead of having to hand it over to the listing agent, and some other things you’ve seen on this site are worth running by them. The response you re looking for is one of interest and willingness to work with you. You may not get complete acceptance, because some of it might not be familiar, but if they say they’re at least willing to explore your ideas, that’s good. You DON’T want someone who starts pontificating about why all that stuff is illegal, can’t do it, etc. You don’t need a parent, you need a team member.

  10. Is available to you, regardless of how much $$ you are spending with them. No matter how “good” the lawyer is, how experienced, if they ignore you they are not worth your time. You need someone who understands that you want a long-term relationship/partnership, and if they treat you with disrespect, they don’t deserve your $$. They should return calls and emails within a reasonable time frame, and should be willing to answer BASIC questions off the meter.

  11. Understands that one hand washes the other. If they can refer you to other investors or potential members of your REI team (CPAs, sellers, etc), and they give you the service I’ve noted above, be sure to send other clients their way. You’ll be surprised at how fruitful a relationship will develop - This person will have CONNECTIONS which can benfit you mightily.

Notice I didn’t say anything about price. If you get everything I’ve listed above in a single lawyer, s/he will be worth their weight in gold. You will learn enough from using them a few times to be able to work with them efficiently going forward. Build the costs of legal into your analysis like you would any other costs, as you would a general contractor. While many good lawyers will work with you on price, don’t insult them by demanding they charge you less because you’re “going to bring them a lot of work” (yeah, right) - you identify yourself as a client not worth working with. Remember, someone like the person I’ve described doesn’t need you, but you will definitely benefit from using them. Switch to someone cheaper, just based on price and ignore all the other benefits I’ve listed above, and you might save money in the short term, but you’ll lose quality and longer-term $$ in building your business.

Good luck! Hope this helps.

Re: What to look for in a RE lawyer - Posted by Tara

Posted by Tara on June 18, 2001 at 09:08:10:

Thanks for the help. Your suggestions are awesome and I’m sure I will re-read this post many times as I look for an attorney in the next couple of weeks.