Hiring a real estate attorney for your team is one of the most important decisions to consider when first becoming involved in real estate investing. The right Attorney will keep you on tract and lessen your liability in your real estate investments. I would not and did not start investing until all my paperwork was state-specific, meaning it was not some generic paperwork offered in an office supply store.
I subscribe to Lexis to do my real estate law research. Since I do sell a real estate investing course, it is important to me in keeping knowledgeable of the latest court decisions regarding real estate. Lexis is really for attorneys and is somewhat expensive for the layman to subscribe to. However, since I am a serious professional investor, I feel it is important to stay on top of my profession. Subscribing also cuts down on attorney time if some of the research is done before a consultation. I never advise my students regarding real estate law. But, I might recommend they have their attorney look at a certain case to help them should the occasion arise.
After you select two or three real estate attorneys from a list you can get from www.martindale.com or www.law.com, which shows their qualifications. I would then go to the court house in your area, check with the clerk there and ask to review cases in which those attorneys have been involved and most importantly whether they won or lost their cases. If you are going to hire an attorney make sure he is a winner, or at least won the majority of time.
Questions to Ask a Prospective Attorney?
My first question would be; what experience do you have in creative real estate investing such as (use the method that you use for investing) subject to investing? If you get an off-in-the-distance stare as he contemplates what to tell you, be assured he does not have the first clue. The Attorney should be open to and understand creative real estate investing. This is very important in making your final decision. The attorney must be very attentive to your needs; he lets you discuss your method of investing then responds in a forthright manner.
How much of your practice is in real estate? Depending on your market size it should be at least 30% to 50%. In smaller markets there would be less need for an attorney to devote all their practice to real estate. Five years of real estate law experience would be the minimum acceptable to me.
Do you have other real estate investors as clients? If so, ask if you can contact them for references.
What are your fees? The size of the law firm is not an important factor except larger firms usually charge more because of their overhead and are not as available to you as a smaller firm. The price the attorney charges are not as important as how well he works for you, with you and gets the job done. The old adage you get what you pay for applies here.
Do you work with other real estate professionals? The attorney should be able to recommend and refer you to other professionals such as CPAs, bortgage Brokers, (for refinances), etc.
These are a few things to look for, but what I feel are the most important to me and hopefully should be for you too.