Lots of people aspire to be an attorney, some from the time they were a kid. But few know precisely what area of law in which they want to work. From environmental law to corporate law, there are a wide variety of options out there for aspiring lawyers.
One particularly fascinating area of law is real estate law. This area of law is multi-faceted and there will always be a need for real estate lawyers so long as people own real property. But what are the steps you should take if you want to be a real estate lawyer?
If you’re interested in a career in real estate law, then you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn everything you need to know about prepping for your future career!
1. Prep for Law School
The best time to prep for a career in law is long before you even get to law school. That doesn’t mean you need to major in political science or philosophy, it means taking the time to hone the skills you’ll need for law school.
If your university has a moot court or mock trial team, take advantage of them! These are critical skills that’ll give you a leg up once you’re in law school. If your school doesn’t have those teams, look for debate teams or anything that can help you build your speaking and critical thinking skills.
Last, but not least, be sure to keep your grades high. High grades and a good LSAT score are necessary to get in at the top schools (and get scholarships, too).
2. Choose the Right Law School
There’s no shortage of law schools available in the United States. In fact, there are a few hundred to choose from. But not all law schools are created equal!
There are many things to consider when trying to pick the right law school. Many people pick the highest ranked school they get into, but there are other factors to consider.
Are they giving you a scholarship? Is it located in the area in which you want to practice after you graduate? Do they offer clinical opportunities in the area of law in which you want to practice?
Think about all these things before deciding on a school.
3. Work Hard
Once you’re in law school, you’re going to want to hit the ground running. You won’t get to choose your classes in your first year of law school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start prepping for a career in real estate law.
Property Law will be a class you want to pay close attention to your first year. That doesn’t mean you can let your other courses slide. The better your grades and your ranking, the greater your chances of getting the most coveted summer clerkships.
4. Curate Your Course Selection
After your first year of law school, you’ll have more control over your schedule. This is your opportunity to curate your courses toward real estate law. Consider courses in property, bankruptcy, and wills and estates, among many others.
Don’t be afraid to jump in on practical courses that give you real-life experience doing the type of work that you’ll do in practice.
5. Get Involved
One of the best things law schools offer are clinical programs. These programs allow second and third-year law students to be sworn into the bar for limited practice. You will have a professor supervising the program, and you’ll get to work with real clients who need legal help.
Many law schools offer clinical programs in real estate and housing law. These will be a huge boon for your career because you’ll have actual experience practicing real estate law, and not just coursework.
6. Shoot for the Right Summer Clerkships
Summer clerkships are a must when you’re in law school. Like clinical programs, clerkships give you real-life, practical experience working as a lawyer. Many of clerkships are paid (some big law clerkships pay quite generously) and can give you a little financial padding for the rest of the year.
If you want to make the most of your summer clerkship experience, look for firms or non-profits that feature real estate law as part of their practice. The more practical experience you have, the better your chances of landing a real estate law job before you even graduate.
7. Consider a Post-Grad Training Program
Many law students don’t go straight to a firm post-grad. Some participate in judicial clerkships, while others choose to get an LLM first.
Another option is a fellowship or a government honors program. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has an honors program for new graduates that allows people interested in real estate and housing law the opportunity to hone their skills before going into practice.
8. Start at a Law Firm
It may be tempting to go it alone straight out of law school. You don’t have to deal with the rat race of finding a job and suffering through being a first-year associate. Unfortunately, unless you have a family member who is an attorney and who is also willing to mentor you, you’ll miss out on a lot by skipping working for a law firm.
Being an associate at a law firm will help you hone your skills in real estate law and you won’t have to learn how to navigate the court system on your own. You don’t want to lose clients because you submitted a complaint in the wrong format!
9. Diversify Your Practice Area
If you have the goal of hanging your own shingle, then take advantage of working at a law firm to diversify your knowledge of real estate law. It’s more than real property transactions, after all.
Get experience in landlord-tenant law, tracing title, foreclosure, and liens. The greater your depth of knowledge, the more successful you’ll be in solo practice.
10. Hang Your Own Shingle
Once you feel you have an in-depth knowledge of real estate law, you can hang your own shingle!
You may be able to bring your clients with you from your previous firm, but be sure to check your contract to make sure. Otherwise, you’ll have to build up your client base.
Most solo practitioners don’t have a large office staff as you had at a law firm. It’s important that you make the most use of technology to keep up with new and existing clients. Discover more ways to generate leads and answer calls without taking time out of your schedule to do the leg work.
Ready to Join the World of Real Estate Lawyers?
A career in real estate law is exciting and rewarding. Whether you plan on defending tenants against terrible landlords or you want to help make sure that home buyers have clear title on their new homes, you’ll love this field of law. This guide will help you get where you want to be.
Interested in learning more about real estate lawyers and or law in general? We’ve got you covered!
Check out the rest of our blog for lots of super helpful articles!