Haute Lawyer Experts Give Helpful Advice To Potential Clients

Haute Lawyer talked with top law experts to discuss what should be weighed when deciding which lawyer to choose for specific cases.

Here is what they had to say:

Robert Elias, Real Estate Law, South Florida

From my perspective, important factors in the selection of a transactional/real estate lawyer include requisite experience, accessibility, and personality combined with a practical approach. In real estate, buyers want to buy and sellers want to sell, and hence having a lawyer who will not “over lawyer” the deal is important. Regardless of the complexity of the transaction, the personality of the lawyer also sets the tone for the transaction so make sure you have a “deal maker” as opposed to a “deal-breaker” on your side. In the end, it is about getting the deal done on time and within budget so make sure you are aligned with your counsel in that respect.

Karen J. Lapekas, Tax Law, South Florida

When looking for a lawyer for any kind of matter, it’s important to find a lawyer that specializes in that area. Their hourly rate may be higher, but they will be able to spot the issue and know how to resolve it more efficiently. At the same time, the lawyer should consider your issue (and you!) holistically. While they may be able to fix one issue, do they consider if it makes sense for you financially and emotionally? Will the potential benefits outweigh the legal costs and stress in trying to reach an uncertain resolution? Sometimes the best advice I tell people I consult is that they shouldn’t hire me. Their money may be better spent throwing it at the problem rather than at me to try and resolve it!

Gavin Tudor Elliot, Business Law & Business Litigation, South Florida

Before you decide to investigate lawyers, you should determine whether bringing the action makes business sense. Litigating based upon principle can often require the expenditure of a significant principal. This critical question contemplates not only dollars and cents but concerns related to reputation, relationships, business continuity, collectability, enforceability, and a variety of other matters. An added benefit of this analysis is that it can help you develop a preliminary idea of your highest result and what lesser results would be acceptable based upon a variety of circumstances. 

Courtroom experience is king, but other factors should weigh into the decision. I strongly advocate the position that you not only need an aggressive attorney but one who can turn it on and off. There are times when a silk glove is required and others when a steel gauntlet would be preferred. People often refer to litigation as a fight, and every good boxer knows when the right time is to throw a punch and avoid one.

Other essential criteria for your counsel are their responsiveness and accessibility. You do not want to arrive at a trial date wondering how we got here. Instead, you want an attorney who keeps you informed of the events inside and outside of the case while simultaneously reaching back to you promptly on any questions or concerns you may have. The failure to have this can cause significant stress in the attorney-client relationship.

I would raise two final points as important to your determination to choose one attorney over another, compatibility and communication.  If you do not like, trust, or otherwise have a minimal amount of respect for your attorney, you will not only find yourself uncomfortable during the litigation, but the litigation itself may suffer as a result. If when you speak to your attorney, he either ignores you or if when your attorney speaks to you, he either doesn’t seem to understand you or is not clear and concise in his communication, again, you and the litigation will both suffer.

There are many other factors to consider when retaining counsel, but the ones listed above should be the initial gatekeepers. When you decide to fight, you need to choose an attorney who you know will stand by your side and fight for you.

Roxana Tejeda, Real Estate Law, South Florida

When selecting a Real Estate attorney one should interview multiple attorneys and look for specific characteristics and professional traits, including but not limited to: chemistry, understanding of expected representation and timeliness, discussions of any unique circumstances, and that the professional is experienced in all aspects of the matter, and costs.

Jeffrey Love, Real Estate Law, Los Angeles, CA

Your business needs to rent a new office space and the landlord presents you with a 75-page lease. You know you need a real estate lawyer to help, but how do you choose one. Once you find a potential attorney (whether through a referral, an online portal like Avvo or Martindale Hubbell, or somewhere else entirely) you will want to evaluate a few items before deciding to engage him or her. First, is it a personality fit? You want to be comfortable discussing any questions or concerns that you have with your attorney and to do so you need to be comfortable speaking with him or her. Second, you want to make sure the attorney has experience in the specific area that you need legal assistance in. A real estate attorney that focuses solely on capital markets and finance may not be the right person to review a commercial office lease. Third, you want to make sure the attorney has the capacity to help. If the attorney is so busy they cannot get to your matter for 3 weeks and you need to respond to the landlord in 2 weeks, it may not be a good fit. Finally, you want to make sure the attorney is responsive. There is nothing worse than waiting for your attorney to respond to a time-sensitive matter. Everyone is busy, but if the attorney cannot respond to a phone or email request within 24-48 hours you may need to look elsewhere. In short, don’t be afraid to ask the attorney questions before you engage them as your counsel.