5 Steps for Hiring a Real Estate Attorney
Real estate lawyers can help their clients draft or review contracts, sue to establish ownership of property, or settle boundary disputes.
To find a qualified real estate attorney, you should follow the steps below.
Step 1: Collect Referrals
There are many ways you can get referrals. For example, if you have used a lawyer in the past—to get divorced or to help you in a criminal matter—call up the lawyer and ask him to recommend a real estate lawyer. Lawyers know each other and should be able to point you in the direction of a reputable one.
You can also find referrals in the following ways:
- Look in the phone book
- Perform a Google search for “real estate lawyer” and your city or state
- Contact your nearest bar association and ask for a referral
Step 2: Check the Lawyer’s Background
After collecting referrals, go through and find each lawyer’s website. Every lawyer should have a website nowadays, which you should read. Look for the lawyer’s education and experience. Also, check the overall presentation. A nicely put-together website shows the lawyer cares about detail and presentation, whereas a sloppy one suggests the lawyer might be sloppy when handling your case.
Also, check the lawyer’s disciplinary history at the Disciplinary Review Board website. You can search by the lawyer’s last name. If a lawyer was sanctioned for unethical conduct, then that should be noted.
Step 3: Ask Questions at a Consultation
Pick three or four lawyers to meet with. Call each one up and schedule a half-hour consultation. This will be your chance to describe your situation and also ask questions. Lawyers are very busy, so you should have a list of questions drawn up ahead of time. Remember not to ask questions if you could find the answer on your own (such as, “Where did you go to law school?” which should be on the website). Instead, think about asking the following:
- Have you handled a real estate case like mine?
- Do you foresee any problems with my closing? If so, how would you handle them?
- What do you charge?
- Other than you, who else at your law firm will work on my case?
Step 4: Trust Your Gut
You want to hire a lawyer you feel comfortable with. Think back to the consultation and analyze if you felt comfortable asking questions and if the lawyer described your case using language you could understand. If you feel intimidated, or if you do not understand what the lawyer said, then you cannot effectively participate in your case.
You might have liked more than one lawyer, in which case you need to trust your gut. Pick a lawyer and call to say you want to hire him or her.
Step 5: Read the Fee Agreement
You should have discussed fees for your consultation, but the lawyer should send a fee agreement or engagement letter to you. This document will explain the scope of the lawyer’s representation and how they will bill for their services. If you have a question, call the lawyer and talk it over. Only sign the fee agreement once you agree with everything in it.
Need a Real Estate Lawyer in New Jersey? Call Us Today
Hiring the right real estate lawyer is an important task. At The Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, we offer potential clients a free consultation where they can learn more about the services we offer. To schedule yours, please call 732-422-5648.