Throughout the thousands of real estate transactions I have worked on, there have been several situations where the lawyer representing the other side of the deal had engaged in poor legal practices, resulting in their client’s exposure to undue risk.
Too many of these mistakes were avoidable had the lawyer and their staff been capable of completing the required tasks competently and expeditiously. Unfortunately, some lawyers seem to be content with providing subpar service.
With the gradual commoditization of real estate legal services occuring in the Toronto market, legal fees are being driven down with the overall quality of the legal services following the same downward direction.
There are certain red flags you as a consumer can identify to determine when it might be a good idea to look into getting a second legal opinion. Check out my list of 5 red flags to beware of when dealing with a real estate lawyer that you’ve never worked with before:
Law Clerks Not Carrying Weight
A real estate law firm is only as good as it’s staff. You’re real estate lawyer should be investing in and training competent law clerks and legal assistants. It is not uncommon to come across lazy law clerks, leaving important work to the last minute and often not completing key tasks at all. Beware of lazy or incompetent law clerks. I often see very unorganized and disheveled offices, with no suitable customer management systems or tools in place for storing and retrieving client information.
You should be able to ask your lawyer any questions you may have regarding the purchase or sale of your home. A good lawyer will either answer the question or look for the answer if they are unsure. If the question does not relate to the legal side of the transaction, the lawyer should advise that those particulars are beyond their scope and then defer them to the appropriate source of that information. Reputable lawyers will respond in a timely fashion, not leaving their clients hanging on indefinitely for an answer.
Does Not Deliver on Time
It is completely reasonable for a busy lawyer to charge extra should a client need immediate rush assistance. However, if you are paying more to retain the lawyer’s services right away, they should deliver on their promises especially if they are charging a premium for last-minute service. Ask for confirmation that your lawyer will be able to close your deal on time should you decide to pay their premium on a rush deal.
No Attention to Detail
Whether you are a lawyer, doctor or accountant, all professionals should maintain an attention for the nitty gritty. When dealing with the single largest purchase most people will make in their lives, having an eye for detail is paramount. There are several elements that make up an Agreement of Purchase and Sale that can significantly impact the deal. Your lawyer should be able to catch anything out of the norm that could have catastrophic consequences should it go unresolved before closing.
Your Lawyer Likes to Talk (A Lot)
As we covered in our last post, confidentiality is everything is the legal field. This one really goes without saying, but a lawyer who cannot keep his client’s dealings under wraps is not competent representation. There have been stomach-turning situations where lawyers have communicated confidential information to conflicting parties, sometimes unknowingly, damaging their client’s position and exposing them to risks. Get yourself a lawyer who treats his or her tongue like a weapon, and keeps it caged within their teeth, only opening up when they should. Contact ustoday if you need a real estate lawyer you can trust.
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