Real Estate Law Consultant
|Degree Level||Juris Doctor (J.D.)|
|Degree Field||General law, real estate law|
|Licensure||State licensure is rarely required for consultants but is required to practice law|
|Experience||Prior experience in real estate law increases opportunities|
|Key Skills||Strong written and verbal communication, analytical, problem-solving, research and interpersonal skills,|
|Salary||$80,132 (2015 median for real estate lawyers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Bar Association's Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division, Fordham Law Review, Payscale.com (July 2015)
A real estate law consultant gives legal advice to those with real estate questions about topics like bankruptcy, easement, sale, and foreclosure. These professionals often have the same legal training as real estate attorneys. However, law consultants are not regulated by the state. Consultants don't have to adhere to the education and licensing requirements that apply to practicing attorneys, since they practice outside of the traditional attorney-client framework.
Law consultants, like lawyers, work primarily in office settings, including meeting at clients' offices for meetings. Law consultants usually work full-time hours, though clients' needs may require more than 40 hours per week on occasion. The majority of hours are worked during regular business days. The potential in the legal industry for good pay is very high, though consultants may not make as much as licensed attorneys. Real estate law consultants need strong written and verbal communication, analytical, problem-solving, research and interpersonal skills. Let's look at the path to become a real estate law consultant.
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Get an Education
There are a couple of paths to becoming a real estate law consultant, one of which is earning a law degree. Although the requirements for gaining admission to law school vary, require candidates to have an undergraduate degree and take the Law School Admission Test.
Law school generally takes three years to complete and often includes coursework in real estate law. Some schools also offer specialized degrees in real estate law that can take four years to complete and result in a combined Juris Doctor/Master of Laws. Courses usually include commercial real estate transactions, real estate finance, fair housing and fair lending laws, bankruptcy laws and historic preservation laws.
Another path to becoming a real estate law consultant is to earn a graduate degree in real estate law. Some schools offer master's degree programs in real estate law for non-attorney professionals with real estate experience.
No matter which path they take, aspiring real estate law consultants might want to complete marketing coursework. Identifying and marketing consulting services to clients is part of a real estate law consultant's job. Studying marketing strategies during undergraduate school may provide consultants with the means of acquiring a solid client base when they begin to practice.
Get Licensed, if Applicable
Lawyers must be licensed by their state in order to practice law, so those aspiring consultants who choose gain work experience as a lawyer must apply for licensure and pass the bar exam after graduating from law school. Consultants work outside of a traditional legal environment and are not regulated by the state, so they aren't generally required to become licensed. However, select states do require some consultants to become registered. For example, in California, a foreclosure consultant must register with the state in addition to posting a $100,000 bond. This rule is part of the state's effort to differentiate between legitimate consultants and those who strive to take advantage of people who are less fortunate.
The American Bar Association's Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division states that, although not strictly necessary, having experience working in a law practice can give consultants an invaluable foundation on which to build a thriving business. Gaining hands-on experience in real estate law can help aspiring consultants develop a solid understanding of the relevant legal issues. Having experience in the field also demonstrates a level of professional competency and may lead to increased job opportunities for the consultant.
Practicing attorneys must renew licensure every 1-3 years, depending on the state, by fulfilling continuing education requirements. While this is not mandatory for real estate law consultants, maintaining one's licensure may allow for broader job opportunities, and continuing education can help consultants stay abreast of legal developments and advancements.
In summary, real estate law consultants might earn a law degree or a graduate degree in real estate law. Those who choose to gain experience as a lawyer must earn state licensure and some states require registration for real estate law consultants.