Manhattan Real Estate Lawyer shows you how to pick a Manhattan Real Estate Attorney

As a New York City Real Estate Attorney, Ive been asked to post this for quite some time.  The reason I decided not to post it for so long is because it can come off as self serving.  “Oh a lawyer tells you the bad things about other lawyers so he can get your business!”  Kind of, but thats not really the point.  You see, I, like almost every other lawyer in the world has made occassioal mistakes. Anyone who says otherwise, no matter how experienced, is simply lying.  It happens more than once to the best of us.  So why write this then?  Because I think we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and see what works and what doesn’t, and what should earn a fee and what shouldnt.  To be perfectly honest a lawyer might not view $1000 or $2000 the way you would. If you do enough closings, $1000 may not seem like a lot, but to a client, it is.  And so here are some tips that Ive compiled about how/when/what you should look for in a Real Estate attorney before you cough up that hard earned money.

1.  Pleasantness on the phone during the initial call.  Lawyers may think I’m crazy for saying this, and thats fine, but I think one of the most overlooked keys in picking out a good Real Estate Attorney in Manhattan, Brooklyn, etc., is the way he/she talks and LISTENS to you during the initial phone call.  Are you being rushed?  Is the attorney not listening to what you’re saying?  Is he/she simply trying to force you to come in for an appointment?  If thats the case, this should raise a red flag.  As lawyers, after a few real estate deals, most of them seem to look and sound a like.  The problem is that there are critical differences in each and every deal and you don’t want to use someone who may think of you as Real Estate closing #45 for the year as opposed to Don and Alice, or Don and Adam (its 2009) buying their first home.  Again, the tone of the phone call may not mean the attorney will never listen to your issues, but it may be a red flag to look out for.

2. Fees.  Im going to get killed for saying this, and rightly so, but I haven’t come across any deal, which in my mind, validates a lawyers fee over $1500 at most.  Unless the lawyer is setting up a Sponsor for new construction, the work is the same for a $400,000 and a $1.4,000,00.00 deal.  The amount of work that can go into a closing may differ, but it won’t differ greatly.  Watch out for this.

3. Responsiveness.  This is the most crucial aspect of picking and sticking with an attorney.  If you email, call, write him/her, do they get back to you in a reasonable (24 hour) period of time.  If not, in my opinion, that is a serious serious problem.  In my Brooklyn office, there are approximately 30 attorneys within a span of 3 city blocks.  The only legitimate way to differentiate yourself is through responsiveness.  We as attorneys MUST get back to you clients quite quickly, otherwise we run the risk of you leaving and going somewhere else.  Thats why its critical that your attorney get back to you quickly.  I have clients who barely ask a question through the entire closing process and I have others who think they’re getting paid by the question.  Either way if you’re attorney doesn’t respond its a problem.  Especially if you brought it up to them (usually a message from his/her receptionist saying “why doesn’t the attorney call me back) and they still don’t respond.

4.   Is he/she showing up to the closing, or is someone else?  Again, something you should ask.  You paid for Rick the Attorney and not Sam the assistant.  If you really want the attorney to show, make sure you ask ahead of time.  If they can’t necessarily commit, you may want to think again.

I will have some more tips up soon, and again, this is personal opinion.  If you’re happy because your aunt Ruth told you that the attorney is amazing, thats fine.  These are just some things I think clients should consider.