I’m A Small Business Owner in South Florida. How Do I Find A Real Estate Lawyer i...
June 21, 2019 | Last Updated on: July 18, 2022
June 21, 2019 | Last Updated on: July 18, 2022
It’s no wonder small business is booming in Miami: The Biz2Credit Top 25 Cities for Small Business report crowned it this year’s #1 city for small business growth. As you start looking into buying or renting property for your expanding business, having solid legal representation can make all the difference. A good real estate lawyer is well worth their fees no matter how well the process goes.
Keep reading to learn how to find, vet, and hire the right lawyer for your business’s real estate transactions.
One of the smartest things you can do is to start searching immediately. Even if you’re still just toying with the idea of renting or buying a property for your business, start looking for a real estate lawyer now. You have several options as to how you conduct your search for a real estate lawyer in Miami.
Be aware while you’re searching that an “estate planning” lawyer is one who provides legal advice related to wills and trusts, not related to commercial real estate matters like short sales, land use, title insurance, and loan modifications. There are many different practice areas that lawyers can specialize in and “real estate” and “estate planning” are often confused.
As a small business owner, you likely already have a relationship with at least one lawyer. If you like and trust them enough to have a business relationship with them, you probably like and trust them enough to ask them for referrals to real estate lawyers they know and trust in the Miami-Dade-Broward area.
While Miami is a fairly big city, the legal community is small, and many lawyers know one another. Most refer clients back and forth, so asking a lawyer you already work with for a referral is a great way to find a lawyer of equal skill and quality.
You can also ask friends and family for referrals to the Miami real estate lawyers they know and trust. Family and friends are more likely to refer you to the lawyer who lives up the street or the law office in the building they work in than the one they worked with on their own business real estate transactions. (Unless they are a real estate attorney themselves!) When getting referrals from family and friends, be sure to get additional information from them regarding details on how they know the real estate lawyer they’re recommending.
If your business lawyer doesn’t have any law firms they recommend, you can use websites that review and recommend law firms and individual lawyers. Two of the biggest lawyer review websites are Superlawyers and Avvo, both of which allow you to whittle down your search to focus on real estate lawyers in Miami, Florida.
You can also reach out to the Florida Bar Association to look for the law offices specializing in commercial real estate. Be sure to confirm that the real estate law firms whose information you’re jotting down work in commercial real estate, not residential real estate.
Google is often our first choice when conducting research, and that is also the case here. If you’re looking for a real estate attorney who practices in Miami, Florida, you could try googling “real estate law firms + Miami, Florida” and going through the results. If you’re not happy with the results, you could try switching out “Miami, Florida” for “Fort Lauderdale, Florida” or “Coral Gables, Florida” or even “Broward County, Florida.”
Be sure to stay specific about where you are searching because a real estate lawyer in North Miami is likely to know more about your Miami Beach property legal issues than one in Palm Beach County.
Now that you have a few potential Florida real estate lawyers you would consider working with, it’s time to vet them. It’s much better to find out that a specific lawyer doesn’t fit your needs now, as opposed to once you’ve paid them a huge retainer and are in the middle of a rental or sale negotiation.
Check that every lawyer you’re considering is certified to practice real estate law in Florida and is in good standing with the Bar Association in the State of Florida. Google their name and their law firm’s name to see what current and former clients say about working with them.
Law firms’ websites will often have testimonials, and individual lawyers can share with you some of their successful past projects. You won’t hear about any potential downsides from the lawyer themselves or from their website, but if they’re struggling to share success stories with you, that’s a sign you should perhaps move onto the next candidate.
Schedule a few consultations with the lawyers you are considering. Most law firms will offer free consultations with prospective clients, and you should not hesitate to take advantage of those free consultation offers.
When you’re at the consultation, be sure to ask questions about how many years of experience they have, their fee structure, and who will actually be working on your project. While 10 years of experience isn’t necessarily twice as good as five years experience in real estate law, you will want to ensure that lawyers with fewer years experience have handled projects very similar to yours in the past.
Having clarity on who will be touching your project file is also important. Hiring a top law office only to have a paralegal or junior partner do all the work without any supervision from the big name real estate attorney you’re speaking with isn’t ideal and wouldn’t be a good ROI for your money.
Once you’ve made your decision regarding which real estate attorney best suits your needs and budget, it’s time to write them a check and retain their services. A good real estate lawyer in Miami will be able to help guide you through the entire process so choose wisely.
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