Real Estate

Business Real Estate: Selecting a Good Lawyer

When you have a legal problem involving business or commercial real estate, know some basics about selecting a real estate law lawyer. Articles on Lawyers.com can give you a good start, and help provide insight as you search for the right lawyer. Next, start building your list of candidates with the help of the Lawyers.com directory.

Start Your Search on Lawyers.com

The Lawyers.com directory provides easy access to information on lawyers in your area. You'll find biographical information, ratings and reviews and contact information.

Other resources you may find helpful in searching for an attorney include:

  • Recommendations from friends, family and others you know. Your real estate broker, sales or leasing agent is another good referral source. Ask if they'd suggest using a lawyer they've worked with
  • Professional organizations. State and local bar associations, and groups specific to real estate law usually offer referral services
  • General internet searches can add to your list of candidates. Often you can find articles or blogs written by real estate law lawyers in your area. You may find general news items about the lawyer

Focusing Your Search

Another factor to think about as you search for a lawyer is the type of real estate issue you need help with. Real estate law covers many issues involving real property, and lawyers often concentrate their practices on certain sub-types of real estate law. These include:

  • Commercial real estate
  • Industrial use
  • Agricultural law
  • Land use issues, such as zoning
  • Residential real estate
  • Landlord-tenant law
  • Eminent domain

A lawyer may work with one client type or another, for example, landlords, but not tenants, or developers, and not individual buyers. You may need to contact the lawyer's office and ask whether the lawyer represents clients similar to you. A lawyer may have expertise and experience in some areas of real estate law, but not others.

Keeping Your Real Estate Issue in Mind

Real estate lawyers may also concentrate their practices on real estate lawsuits and litigation, or transactions. Your short list of candidates may vary, depending on your needs. Your business may need help in developing a condominium, office building or subdivision. Or, you may be facing a lawsuit, such as an eminent domain or nuisance case.

Also, plan for your future needs. In commercial real estate, you may need a lawyer or law firm that can help with transactions, lawsuits and administrative issues affecting your business.

Finding the right lawyer may be challenging, depending on which side of an issue you're on. Some lawyers may be reluctant to represent a consumer in a case against a business such as bank or other large institution, which has far greater resources. Some will work with clients on a contingency fee basis, such as in an eminent domain case. On the other hand, your business may pay a retainer fee for a lawyer to take care of ongoing legal real estate issues.

In other cases, the type of law and legal issue involved may be a factor. For example, you may be able to join with other property owners and hire a lawyer if you have a common problem. As a business owner, you may face lawsuits from consumers, such as cases based on consumer protection laws.

Practical Considerations

Location may be a factor in choosing your real estate lawyer. For example, an attorney located in the same area as your business or property may be able to offer you the best service and convenience.

A local lawyer often offers the advantage of knowing local laws or regulations, issues and other local real estate lawyers. Community contacts and familiarity with local government may be important to you. These factors can affect solving your real estate issues.

Consultations and Choosing Your Lawyer

When you've done your research, and you have a short list of few candidates, set up a consultation or first meeting. Often, there's no fee for an initial meeting. During the meeting, you can ask the lawyer for references, review fee and retainer arrangements and discuss your legal issues.

If your legal issue is limited in scope, for example, you need a simple commercial lease or contract reviewed, a phone interview may be enough to narrow your choices.

Once you've interviewed candidates and made your final choice, you should feel confident about your decision, and solving your legal real property issues.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What portion of your practice is focused on real estate law? Do you handle many cases similar to mine?
  • Can you represent my business if I have issues with properties outside our community or region?
  • What range of real property issues can your law firm handle? Transactions and lawsuits?
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