FInd a CanLaw Real Estate Lawyer
The fourth thing to look for in real estate is a lawyer. It may well be the first thing you should do before you see your banker to pre-arrange financing and before you fall in love with that "location, location, location." Finding a good lawyer is not easy. There are some 72,000 lawyers in Canada today. The Yellow pages lists pages of lawyers. How do you sort through the chaff to find the one kernel you need?
You must find a way to find a lawyer if you are going to buy or sell real estate. That is a given and only a fool would try to get by without one. Where do you start looking? How do you know if you have a good one? What sort of fees should you expect to pay?
There are several ways to find a lawyer. You could throw the yellow pages down the stairs and pick one from the page that happens to open up.
Law Societies across Canada, actually lawyers' unions, maintain a telephone referral service. Some even charge you for this "service." Just call and ask for a lawyer referral. However this service merely passes on to you the next lawyer in a rotation who, for example, is in your area and in this case practices real estate. Any lawyer can pay a small fee and get in the line up. There is no screening or evaluation of the lawyer's merits or skills. This service is not much more then an automated phone book. It offers nothing of real value over looking in the Yellow pages yourself.
I have personally dealt with over forty lawyers in the past ten years. Not one of them has ever supplied a written contract to cover the work I required. This seems strange since they are always telling people to "get it in writing. So ask for, no demand, a written estimate of fees, all disbursements and extras. Be sure that the estimate includes an upper limit, an hourly rate and a schedule of chargeable items. More then a million CanLaw clients have been stunned to learn that lawyers usually charge for phone calls and photocopies.
Ask what will be expected as a retainer. If you like a lawyer feel free to haggle over fees and retainers. A lawyer likes to charge by the hour, but an hour spent doing nothing costs money in overhead, office expenses and such...so often rates can be negotiated. Many lawyers are starving today. Use that knowledge to get a deal.
You should also know that most real estate lawyers do not actually do the work. They supervise law clerks who use automated software. For a simple house purchase or sale, the legal work is not difficult or demanding, but very routine clerical paper work. It does not require much effort at all
Be sure and cover contingencies with her. Legal work is a mine field of the unforeseen and the unexpected. If something like this arises, you want to know before you get a massive bill.
Garage mechanics are no longer permitted to hit us with five o'clock surprises. Strangely, lawyers are. Be certain that your lawyer knows that you will NOT pay anything that is not covered in advance by a signed and agreed on estimate. If during the work new costs arise, make certain that your lawyer understands that you must pre-approve the expenditure or you will not pay it. Put that in writing. Disputes over fees can be referred to the courts, but this is best avoided by clearly understanding everything up front.
FInd a CanLaw Real Estate Lawyer
CanLaw has several free services which offers you two new ways to obtain a lawyer. There are no fees or charges made to individuals seeking legal assistance. (We do have premium pay per use services if you want extra service.) Lawyers currently are paying to list their skills, background and experience so that you can more easily judge if an individual is suitable for your needs. You can browse through the listings and resumes and pick a couple names to interview for yourself.
If none of the lawyers listed appeal, or if you wish to see other options, there is a form online which you can fill out and the CanLaw unique FIND ME a LAWYER Referral Service will go to work for you at no charge. CanLaw has about 72,000 lawyers on file across Canada and they will submit your request to all the lawyers meeting your criteria. Those lawyers who are interested in bidding for your business will get in touch with you directly. It is simple, clean, neat and may save you money in legal fees.
There are also many lawyers and law firms listed on the Internet, but unless you are prepared to search for them, they can be hard to find. CanLaw acts as a central clearing house for lawyers.
Once you have a list of lawyers who you may wish to retain, go and see each of them Any lawyer who will not give you a half hour free initial consultation is not worth seeing. Tell them in advance you want to discuss all money matters up front at the first meeting. It is in this one area that lawyers and CanLaw clients have the most difficulties and misunderstandings that lead to problems.
Hiring a lawyer is not much different from hiring anyone else... be it the contractor who repairs driveways, a real estate agent or a baby sitter. You check out their references, ask others for opinions, consult your astrologer and in the end you toss a coin and hope for the best. The simple truth is you cannot tell what you are getting until you are see the work. So in picking a lawyer, eliminate the obvious non starters, sort through the rest using your common sense, gut feel and judgement. If the lawyer seems after all this to be someone you can trust and work with, sign on the dotted line.
Now you can start looking for that new location, location, location.