Whether you are buying or selling property, investing in real estate, planning to purchase foreclosed property and so on, you are going to need a lawyer. Lawyers can help you either by representing you in whatever property-related transaction you are involved with or giving you sound advice on complex concerns. Of course, if you are going to enlist the aid of a real estate lawyer, you had better make sure that you are working with a capable and experienced professional.
Here are some questions you can ask your prospective lawyer to gauge their skills and qualifications:
How long have you been practicing law?
Experience is everything in a real estate attorney; you are naturally going to look for a lawyer who has been practicing for years. Depending on how intricate your transaction is, you will need a more seasoned veteran on your side. Do not forget to ask for the professional’s credentials and educational background. Also, you might want to ask if the attorney specializes in a specific area of real estate law. Obviously, you have to hire a lawyer whose specialty is in line with your concerns.
Have you ever handled similar cases?
While a lawyer’s experience is one thing, his or her familiarity with cases similar to yours could be a tremendous help. Attorneys who have tackled cases like yours are sure to know what pitfalls to avoid, and can anticipate any possible issues that could arise. You cannot ask lawyers specific details about their previous cases, but you can get a feel of their experience if they can meticulously put together an action plan instead of just making promises.
How much do you charge?
Attorneys either charge you on an hourly basis, or a flat fee for their legal and consultation services. Neither is necessarily better than the other, as there will be circumstances where you should be willing to pay more to get the results you want. You can usually ask an attorney for a free estimate of his or her services, and some are even willing to negotiate for reasonable fees.
Will you be working with other people on my case?
This question is important to ask if you are approaching a large law firm for help. Note that attorneys in such firms can delegate a part of their work to paralegals and/or junior attorneys. The information you share with the lawyer could be passed around to others, so you need to make sure that whoever has access to it can be trusted. On the bright side, if you have an attorney who works with others, you have more experts to rely on should you need someone to talk to. Even if your lawyer is not available, his or her assistants can assist you with invaluable advice.
Do you have references?
Perhaps the best way to get a feel of how a lawyer works is to talk with his or her previous clients. While attorneys are not obligated to provide you with references, those who are willing are usually very confident with their reputation and track record. It pays to do some research of your own before actually settling for a specific lawyer.