Property expert Nita Arora-Parkes looks at 10 things you should consider when choosing the right commercial property lawyer to negotiate the best deals possible for you and your business
Choosing a commercial property lawyer is not as straightforward as you would think, but doing this task right from the beginning can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. So how do you distinguish one lawyer from another? What makes them right for you? Here are some points to consider:
- Three quotes: It is advisable to always get at least three fixed-price quotes, however, a fixed price will not cover additional costs and disbursements. So for budgeting purposes ensure you agree with your lawyer to keep you informed of all (itemised) costs.
- DIY referrals: I always believe in getting a referral. If you don’t know someone who has already done what you are looking to do, then go to the law society website and click on “find a lawyer” and look for specialists in your particular area or need. You may wish to think twice about using the recommendation from your real estate agents, as they may be getting a referral fee. Do your own research.
- Listen and learn: Before hiring, speak to the lawyer on the phone to get a feel for the person; is this someone that you can trust? Will they listen to your requirements or will they railroad you into making a deal? Do you feel comfortable telling them no, or that you made a mistake?
- References matter: Speak to some of their previous clients and find out about their experience. Ask about the important things like if the budget changed a lot, whether the lawyer listened to them and were they happy with the outcome.
- Accredited: If the matter is complex or very important, make sure the lawyer is an accredited specialist in the field that you are seeking help in. They can not all be specialists in all aspects of property, which includes areas such as leasing, acquisitions, subdivisions and strata law. To become accredited the lawyer needs to sit exams set by the Law Society of NSW.
- Meeting deadlines: Your commercial lawyer should be able to provide competent advice in a language that is easily understood. They should also be able to meet any tight deadlines that you may have to successfully complete the transaction.
- Contact outside of 9 to 5: Make sure you have direct contact with the person that is dealing with your work, and that they are available outside of the standard business hours if needed.
- Choosing based on price: Do not choose some one based on price alone. It is important they have the appropriate experience and skills. The cheap online solicitors can often be overworked and may slow down your progress, or may not have the experience you require.
- Negotiations: The lawyer will be negotiating clauses of the Agreement on your behalf, so it is up to you that they understand what is important to you. Make sure your lawyer has the experience, confidence and ability to negotiate those points aggressively for you.
- Insurance: Ensure your lawyer has professional indemnity insurance of at least $2,000,000. Stay clear of anyone who is not covered appropriately.
Finding the right lawyer will ensure the work is carried out efficiently and accurately, reduce the chance of the deal falling through and will minimise the risk of making any expensive mistakes. They should help make choosing a commercial property the fun part, and stress free for you.