Navigating the legal world alone can be a bewildering experience. In some cases, it can even end up costing you more money than if you had hired an experienced attorney to begin with. Every area of law has its own intricacies that are best left to an expert to figure out, and real estate is no different. Here are a few tips on finding a good real estate attorney to advise you on your case.
Know what you want. When you first start searching for an attorney, it helps to know what exactly it is you’re looking to get help for. Real estate matters come in all shapes and sizes, including commercial, construction, HOA and CC&Rs, investment, personal, and transactional. That being said, if your issue deals with an untrustworthy builder who has dealt unfairly with you in building your house, your search will be limited to attorneys whose expertise lies in that area.
Referrals. After you’ve squared away which type of law you’re going to be looking in, begin talking with friends and family, or acquaintances who work in the legal field. Getting names from people who have had first-hand dealings with your potential attorney is preferable to going into an initial consultation without any prior knowledge. Referral sources can give you the inside scoop on how a certain attorney works and how successful he has been in helping past clients. In the legal world, reputation is everything, so take seriously what others have to say.
Do your homework. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential candidates (which can also be garnered from your state’s legal bar association website, the internet, and the phone book), call each one. Find out typical fees for your type of case (although be aware that no good lawyer will be able to give you a solid number up front), their working style, and if they even think you have a case. Some may want invite you into their office for an initial consultation, but only do this if you feel good about the attorney’s work and are confident they might be the one to hire.
Decisions, decisions. Once you’ve decided which attorney suits you best, it’s common courtesy to let the other attorney you may have met with know you appreciate his or her time, but you have decided to go with someone else. That way you tie up loose strings on your end and don’t leave the attorney wondering if your case is going forward with them or not.