The Most Important Thing Your Lawyer Can Do For You

SKRealEstateLaw Most Important Blog FI

 

I try to give a ton of information sessions for individuals in the real estate industry.  Realtors, mortgage brokers, new home buyers, condo boards, and even other lawyers.  In one session recently, I gave (in my view) some good information about an aspect of the transaction that I assist in and provide advice on.  One of the professionals came up to me after the presentation and said “that’s all well and good to provide the information.  Just as long as you don’t crater the deal. 
The chuckle after the comment suggested it was in jest.  However, there was an inference in there that if I wanted to start receiving referrals from this individual, I better just rubber stamp the transaction and move on. I was disappointed that a professional would have such a limited appreciation of my professional ethics, and the value that my profession provides. This kind of comment is rare – the vast majority of professionals I have worked with appreciate the value of a knowledgeable lawyer.  However, it made me think that we may have a communication problem as a profession in communicating the importance of what we do. 
I was having lunch recently with Jeph Maystruck, marketer and self described “Chief Interrupting Officer” at Strategy Lab (http://jephmaystruck.com/). One nugget that stuck with me is that he suggests that organizations distill what they do to three or four words.  It gives a fundamental appreciation of why organizations do what they do.  Not surprisingly, distilling my value to a few words is a challenging task for a lawyer.
After some thought, the purpose of my real estate practice is simple:
To help clients understand. This is the most important thing I can do for you.

 

I want you to understand the roles of the various people and businesses involved in the deal.

 

I want you to understand how the transaction closes.

 

I want you to understand the risks that you are presented with.

 

I want you to understand the options that you have. 
And I want to do all of this in language that you understand and examples that will make sense.

And once you understand, I want you to make decisions based on the information I have provided you.  I can’t tell you if a deal is a bad one – but I can make sure that you understand the risks and the ways to protect yourself.  I can inform you so that you can make a decision based on your personal risk tolerance.

So will I crater a deal or two?  Not directly, but I will provide information to clients that may cause them to give a transaction a sober second thought.  Professionals that work with me should support that role by informing their clients that their lawyer is an essential cog in the transaction and due diligence.  Just as I would be the wrong person to tell them about foundation problems, many of them would be the wrong person to advise on unique contractual issues.  
Get the lawyer involved early, and work towards the best possible outcome and fit for the client.
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