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Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Lawyer

Attorney sitting at desk with scales of justice, gavel and small wooden toy house, working with documents, signing contract agreements. Real estate law, foreclosed property, lawyer services concept

If you’re gearing up for a real estate transaction or a legal dispute, you need the right legal team on your side. Finding the right lawyer for your case takes time and effort. Ideally, you’ll meet with a few potential attorneys before you settle on the law firm to handle your matter. Below, we discuss a few questions you should ask your potential real estate attorney in your initial consultation to help determine if they’re the best fit for your needs. If you are planning a real estate deal in the Hudson Valley, call a dedicated Poughkeepsie real estate lawyer for advice and assistance.

What Are Your Education and Experience?

The first thing you should confirm with any attorney before retaining their services is that they are qualified to assist you with your legal matter. Ask about their education, their licenses, their publications, and their level of experience. If you have a particularly complex matter, you might need a lawyer with years of specialized experience. In all cases, it helps to have someone on your side who knows what they are doing. Make sure your chosen attorney is actually up to the task.

Do You Specialize in Real Estate Law? Commercial? Residential? Investors?

Some lawyers boast of being jacks of all trades. They handle all types of legal matters. Law, however, is like medicine; if you need eye surgery you do not want to see a foot doctor. You want an eye surgeon.

The same applies to attorneys. In your initial consultation, ask about the lawyer’s specific education, experience, and other qualifications. Do they specialize in real estate law? Do they have specific knowledge about your matter and issues likely to arise–e.g., commercial leases, property development, financing, zoning, etc. Make sure you hire a lawyer who is truly prepared to handle the specifics of your case and to do so successfully.

What Do You Charge?

One of the most important discussions for your initial consultation concerns the attorney’s fee structure. Different law firms have different fee structures. The attorney may charge by the hour, they may charge by the task, or they might even charge a flat rate for certain matters (such as drafting and executing a contract of sale). Make sure you know how the attorney structures their fees and that they give you an estimate of your anticipated total costs before you retain their services.

Who Will Actually Work on My Case?

When you hire a big law firm, you might not actually be hiring a partner. The day-to-day work may be handled by junior associates or even by support staff. Depending upon the nature of your matter, you might be fine with a junior lawyer working on your case. It’s fine, for example, for a paralegal to handle administrative tasks. However, it’s important to know what you’re paying for and the level of service you can expect to receive.

When you hire a boutique firm, you know who you’re getting. The name on the door is the attorney working directly on your matter, from start to finish. Make sure you know who is working on your case, what they’re charging, and how they’ll be managing your case.

What Obstacles Do You See in My Matter?

In your initial consultation, you can ask for a brief analysis of your matter. You need not go through every detail, but it’s important to get an idea of the lawyer’s analytical skills and how they apply their real estate law experience. You’ll get a sample of how they’ll think through issues that arise in your case.

If you have a potential deal in hand, the attorney can give you a brief review of their thoughts on the matter. Even if you do not have a specific transaction ready to review, you can ask about obstacles they’ve faced in the past and how they dealt with those obstacles. Think of it like a job interview: You want to make sure the lawyer is ready to handle the task at hand.

If you need assistance with a commercial or residential real estate transaction in Orange, Ulster, or Dutchess Counties or anywhere in the Hudson Valley, contact the seasoned and successful New York real estate legal team at the Law Office of Taran M. Provost, PLLC at 845-733-2720.

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