Running a real estate law practice can be a thankless job, but it can also be quite rewarding. While the hours can be long and the work never seems to end, there is a sense of accomplishment as you watch buyer and seller shake hands at the end of each closing.
Many attorneys complain about the stress involved in practicing real estate law. Let’s take a look at the causes to better understand how to deal with the pain.
Practicality: Remaining in nearly constant contact with clients through email and texts.
Pain Point: Trying to calm nervous or angry clients means taking valuable time away from the other tasks at hand, which has a cascade effect on the rest of the day.
Practicality: Trying to maintain a calendar for the paperwork, maintenance and filings required for multiple closings.
Pain Point: This is a major source of anxiety for many attorneys. If something minor falls through the cracks, it can rapidly escalate into an emergency. The resulting chaos is hardly calming.
Practicality: Closing fees don’t always represent the amount of work done for the client.
Pain Point: This is a big one. Attorneys may feel taken for granted because despite the “billable” hours spent on the transaction, in conjunction with the anxiety and stress, the typical closing fee is in the ballpark of $1,000-$1,500, which is minimal compared to the agent’s fee. This can lead to resentment and anger.
Practicality: Many elements of a closing are the attorney’s responsibility, whether it’s acquiring the title report, drafting purchase agreements or filing transfer documents. The lawyer serves as the hub for all this information.
Pain Point: The flip side of being the one responsible for all these documents means if something goes wrong (and it can), the lawyer is the one who bears the blame, even if it’s not their fault. It’s not just the closing that is affected by a slip-up; the lawyer’s reputation is on the line, which can result in defensiveness and anger where the blame is unjustified.
Practicality: Many of the daily tasks that are part of real estate lawyers’ portfolio are mundane and often tedious, and because they need to generate as much business as possible to turn a profit, there is a lot of it.
Pain Point: It is hard to get up for work in the morning when you feel like your entire day is spent on boring—but necessary—tasks, interspersed with putting out fires. Hiring more help isn’t always the answer, because the costs of additional staffing means the necessity to generate more business, which means more work. The costs outweigh the benefits.
To ameliorate these pain points, the real estate lawyer has to hone his or her organizational skills. The cyclical nature of this beast means that one’s calendar is always going to be filled with filing deadlines, title searches, phone calls, accountings, emails and client meetings. If you’re not organized, you’ll find yourself buried under an Augean stable’s worth of tasks, which, if not kept in check, will only lead to more pain.