Commercial Real Estate Law Career Options and Education Requirements

Learn about the preparation and education needed to become a commercial real estate law specialist. Get a quick-view of the requirements and learn details about education programs for both lawyers and non-lawyers interested in pursuing a career in commercial real estate law.

If you are interested in commercial real estate law, there are several career options in the field. The amount of education required depends on whether you want to work directly as a lawyer or pursue a job as a real estate professional focusing on the legal aspects of the field.

Essential Information

There are several career options for those interested in commercial real estate law. Both attorneys and non-attorneys interested in real estate law may find employment opportunities in a variety of industries related to real estate. Certificate programs for real estate professionals and graduate-level programs, such as a Master of Science in real estate law, may lead to employment in consulting, property valuation, commercial brokerage and real estate finance.

Commercial Real Estate Lawyer Real Estate Broker / Sales Agent
Required Education J.D. or LL.M. Graduate certificate or M.S.
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (for lawyers) 3%
Median Annual Salary $66,673 (2016)** $45,610 (2015)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com, October 2016

Education Programs in Commercial Real Estate Law

Most education programs specializing in commercial real estate law are graduate-level programs designed for those who already hold an undergraduate degree with previous coursework in a real estate-related field or for lawyers who have already earned their law degree.

However, there are also certificate programs available for real estate professionals who wish to further their education. There are also dual degree programs that allow law students to concentrate in commercial real estate law as they work towards their Juris Doctor (J.D.).

Programs for Non-Lawyer Commercial Real Estate Specialists

Certificate Programs

A commercial real estate certificate program is one option for non-lawyers wishing to pursue a career as real estate law specialists. Students learn about property values, insurance and risk management, as well as business and real estate laws and regulations. Admission requirements can include some previous college coursework and experience working in the field of real estate.

Coursework

Certificate programs often concentrate on a single course per semester to allow students to gain a deep understanding of the topic. Coursework may cover topics such as:

  • History of Commercial Real Estate
  • Commercial Real Estate Financing
  • Real Estate Marketing
  • Commercial Real Estate Forecasting

Degree Programs

A Master of Sciences degree in real estate law for non-attorney real estate professionals covers most of the main aspects of real estate law and may take up to three years to complete. Students gain skills and knowledge through coursework that concentrates in the transactions performed in real estate law and through the study of the actual documents typically used in this field.

Coursework

Required coursework in this program includes Introduction to Real Estate Laws, Real Estate Transactions and Real Estate Finances. Elective coursework may include:

  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Federal Regulations in Real Estate
  • Local Government Real Estate Policies
  • Laws Governing Commercial Real Estate Zoning and Use

Programs for Lawyers Specializing in Commercial Real Estate Law

A couple of the most common degrees obtained by commercial real estate lawyers after completing a J.D. program is a Master of Laws (LL.M.) or a Master of Science degree that focuses on real estate law. These programs typically examine the transactions involved with real estate deals. A typical program is taught over a 13 or 14-week semester, often meeting at night to permit the student to work and study at the same time.

Joint J.D./LL.M. degree programs are also available by some law schools where students can get credits in real estate law courses during their J.D. program. This enables the student to obtain a concentration in real estate to go along with a J.D.

Coursework

Commercial real estate transaction coursework typically offers an overview of the legal, accounting and business aspects of acquiring, building, owning and operating several kinds of commercial real estate plans. Classes may include:

  • Environmental Regulations in Commercial Transactions
  • Commercial Leasing
  • Construction Regulations
  • Conservation Policies

In the commercial and real estate law field, you can work as either an attorney or in a non-attorney position. Depending on your career choice, you'll need anywhere from an associate's degree to a law degree.


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