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Salary and Career Information for Real Estate Lawyers

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a real estate lawyer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Real estate transactions frequently require the assistance of a lawyer to prepare and file documents. Lawyers who wish to specialize in real estate require a law degree and a state license as well as skills and knowledge in business, research, contracts, and property laws.

Essential Information

Real estate lawyers represent buyers and sellers in property transactions by creating and reviewing legal documents, completing research and providing consultation services. Lawyers must have earned a law degree from an accredited law school and passed their state's bar exam before they are licensed to practice.

Required Education Juris Doctor
Licensure Required by state law
Required Skills Specific real estate knowledge, financial expertise, investigative research and negotiation skills
Projected Job Growth* 6% (2014-2024) for all lawyers
Mean Annual Salary* $136,260 (2015) for all lawyers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information for Real Estate Lawyers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted employment for all lawyers will grow by 6% from 2014-2024; however, the availability of real estate lawyer positions is also dependent on the real estate market. In 2015, the mean annual salary for lawyers in general was $136,260, according to the BLS.

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Career Information for Real Estate Lawyers

Real estate lawyers are responsible for the legal aspects of real estate matters such as land developments, purchases of property and asset transfers. They meet with clients, which can include large corporations and individuals, to advise them regarding possible legal issues they might encounter. They are responsible for reviewing all documents to ensure that they align with current property laws and regulations, in order to prevent negative repercussions from mistakes and loopholes.

Lawyers draft legal documents including deeds, contracts, and agreements, as well as obtain required permits and titles. They prepare all necessary forms and paperwork, and file them with the appropriate institutions and courts. Real estate lawyers are responsible for making sure their clients understand the legal documents they are signing, and that they are satisfied with the terms of the agreement. They must comply with the standards and protocol determined by the law, both in their methods and in the work they produce.

Skills

Real estate lawyers must have an extensive legal background, as well as business acumen, financial expertise and specific real estate knowledge. They must be comfortable with public speaking, and must be efficient communicators. Real estate lawyers must be skilled investigative researchers, as well as be able to analyze the information they locate.

Real estate lawyers must be comfortable with conflict resolution, familiar with legal terminology and able to work long hours, especially in the beginning of their careers. Negotiation skills are needed for situations where clients are dissatisfied or when the issue itself is a land dispute.

Education

Like all attorneys, real estate lawyers must earn a bachelor's degree, obtain a satisfactory score on the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), complete a 3-year graduate program at an accredited law school and pass the bar examination in the state where they will practice. There is no specific pre-law major, but students often prepare by taking courses that emphasize communication skills, analytics and logic. Law school graduates usually earn the Juris Doctor (J.D.) title; however, students who plan to become real estate lawyers can also earn a Master of Laws (L.L.M.).

As a real estate lawyer, you'll work closely with clients to ensure that their property transaction goes smoothly and that all paperwork is filed according to legal requirements. This job necessitates deep knowledge of the law as it relates to property, land, title, deeds, contracts, and permits. The hours can be long and there's a lot of research involved, but job growth is steady and remuneration is excellent in this sector.

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