How to Hire a Real Estate Attorney

By Cassandra McGarvey, Founder of McGarvey PLLC on October 16, 2020

When you hire a real estate attorney, you are choosing an advocate to protect your best interests. Real estate attorneys can assist with a number of commercial and residential real estate matters — from drawing up titles or deeds, drafting contracts, advising on construction related issues, or reviewing existing documents.

Attorneys also assist with real estate litigation and disputes, title or land disputes, enforcement of legal contracts, and more. But how can you be sure that the lawyer you choose is the right one for your specific needs? Before hiring legal help for your real estate needs consider the following:

Start with Research

Google your local Bar Association and search for attorneys by specialty to find licensed attorneys in your area. The Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (martindale.com) is another excellent resource for identifying an appropriate attorney by specialty.

Experience

Once you identify an attorney, ask them how many years of experience they have. Ask where they attended law school (and research the school if you don’t know it).

Ask if they’ve handled cases similar to yours. Screening your potential attorney regarding the types of real estate transactions they have handled in the past will give you a clearer picture of their ability to handle your particular case. And, ask for a plan of attack — what tactics do they plan to use to solve your legal matter, what problems might you anticipate, and how long to expect before resolution?

Hiring an experienced attorney, particularly when dealing with complex real estate issues, can make all the difference in your outcome. And, remember, as with any professional service, you often get what you pay for.

Value and Billing Practices

It’s important to understand clearly the projected costs when hiring an attorney. Your attorney should give you an estimate of the time and fee it will take to handle your matter or case. Determine if your attorney bills based on hours worked or a flat fee. And, if hourly billing is their method, ask your attorney to set a not-to-exceed amount without your notification and approval.

Staffing Your Matter or Case

Ask the attorney to explain how they plan to staff your matter or case. Smaller firms and sole practitioners generally handle your matter directly and rely on support staff as needed and when appropriate for assistance. Larger firms often staff cases heavily and push work down to less experienced attorneys.

Referrals

When possible, ask people you know and trust for a referral to an attorney they know or have worked with in the past.

References

Don’t just ask for references from your prospective attorney — actually call them! This last piece of research on your part, in addition to your overall impression, should give you the final piece of information to select the best attorney for your real estate needs.

Cassie McGarvey, Founder of McGarvey PLLC, is double Board Certified in commercial and residential real estate law in the State of Texas.

Contact Cassie at cmcgarvey@mcgarveypllc.com.

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