Finding Attorney

26 Replies

I believe it's going to be important that I find a good attorney right from the start to help me along the way. The first order of business is to get advice on how to setup my company and other answer other general business questions. Then I would of course need advice specific to real estate. 

I'm wondering if I should look at getting at least 2 lawyers: One who specializes in setting up business and other basic business advice and another one who specializes specifically in real estate law. So what's my first question.

My second question is where do I find a GOOD attorney. I was looking on sites that rate attorneys like avvo and like the idea that clients can rate them. I'm thinking that reading reading several online ratings is better than just getting a referral from a family member since a family member is technically just one rating. So are rating sites a good way to find attorneys or are they rigged? How did you find your lawyer?

I have found most of the lawyers I work with through networking and recommendations.  

@Ned Carey  Do you have different attorneys who specialize in different areas of law, or do you have one attorney who handles most or all of your legal needs?

@Brandon G.  

I found my attorney through my realtor. He is great. He has saved and made me tons of money! He handles all my estate and real estate needs.

I absolutely use several different attorneys depending on what I need done. I have 3-4 different title attorneys I use.  I have an attorney who specializes in tax sale foreclosures. I haven't had to use him yet but I am acquainted with an attorney who specializes in landlord tenant issues and collections. I also have a general purpose RE attorney and yet another attorney who is a bulldog litigator. 

You don't need all these to get started. as your business evolves you will use different attorneys. You keep the good ones and move on from the poor ones.

@Ned Carey   & Elizabeth Colegrove 

Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, I don't yet have a network of people since I really haven't even begun, but I trust that will come with time.

Anyone in the Dallas area have recommendations for attorneys? For now, I need an attorney who specializes in business formation and/or RE specific topics.

          @Brandon G.  You're likely to get a ton of responses on the request for RE atty references.  However, I have 2 recommendations for you about finding any kind of professional in Dallas.  Google "Best xxxxxx in Dallas" and look for the search responses from D Magazine.  Every year they publish exhaustive surveys of the Best of everything in Dallas.  You get to read what it was about them people like, etc.

          Here's why I suggest this approach...

          1.  I have personally found and used attorneys this way, and they have been awesome.

          2.  Your relationship with an attorney is a very personal one.  This person will know all your secrets.  If you eliminate the hack, that still leaves a huge pool of possibilities.  You need to interview attorneys, because you want one who will be with you for a long time and understand you, your motivations, your values, etc.

          I also recommend you Google things like "Asset protection in Real Estate Investing".  Look at who is writing articles for the local BAR associations and what firms they are with.  Those are the guys that focus on your areas.  But, I would start with D Magazine!

You are likely going to go through a few attorneys and get some charges you don't agree with.  Our group has been through half a dozen to find the ones we like.  We've had some that bill us attorney rates for administrative tasks, a definite bad sign.

It's also a volume game.  Our real estate attorney also can do closings which we do several through his office.  This will effectively garner you some good will and keep you from getting those $100 invoices for 5 minute phone calls that so many other attorneys send.

I would double down on the recommendation to network and start to get to know similar types of investors in your area.  Most will be quick to call out preferred vendors.

If you get lucky and find a good lawyer put up a retainer so the lawyer knows you are serious and don't expect the lawyer to work for free.

Joe Gore

Forgot to mention, you may need multiple attorney types.  Sometimes your RE attorney isn't the best for business formation, or taxes.

If you end up doing an offering, you will need a separate SEC attorney as well.

Hi @Brandon G.  

My attorney lives in Austin, and have worked with him for around 5 years. He sets up all of my companies, and specializes in Asset Protection, etc. I would happy to put you guys together, and you can see if he's a good fit for you. Crucial part of your team, of course!


@Account Closed  Sure! If you don't mind, could you direct me to his website or just tell me his name, either here or in a PM. I'd like to read a little bit about him before making contact.


@Brandon G.

Absolutely, will send you a quick PM.

Originally posted by Brandon G

Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, I don't yet have a network of people since I really haven't even begun, but I trust that will come with time.

 Exactly,your network will grow with time. However I suggest you make a concerted effort in the beginning to at least start to build it. Go to REIAs Meetup groups, real estate auctions (generally there are real players with money at auctions).  I used to stop at every renovation I saw. I figured I would either meet an investor owner or a contractor. Either could be an important contact.

PS Brandon I also suggest you post a picture. It builds credibility and there are three Brandon Gs without pictures here!

@Ned Carey  

Networking has always been my weak point. Especially since I'm just starting out I feel like seasoned investors won't take me seriously. But once I gain a bit of knowledge I will feel more confident to get out there.

P.S. pic added.

Dan Castro in Austin is probably the best real estate attorney I've seen anywhere. He can set up your LLC, advise you on the best practices for doing so, and help you figure out how to avoid the pitfalls so many people fall into.

Castro & Baker, LLP

Just be careful. If you're starting out in real estate investing with a ton of assets to protect, by all means, find and deal with a great attorney. We were told, You absolutely must find a good attorney before starting. We wasted a lot of time, effort and money trying to find an attorney, only to trust in one based on recommendations, after several other interviews, who told us that we had to start an LLC to protect ourselves first, open accounts for that LLC, that we could transfer properties to it no problem, etc. A lot of time and dollars setting everything up, only to find that if you actually need loans (which our attorney knew we needed), not just paying cash, banks don't lend to a new LLC and we had to buy it in our own names, anyway, which opens us up to liability issues anyway, and transferring a rental property with a conventional loan to an LLC can cause triggering the due on sale clause, so not good unless you can pay it off if they call it. As a new guy starting out, if you don't have a million or more to protect, just make sure you have an umbrella policy and are dealing with a good insurance company. We actually were better off, after talking to a knowledgeable accountant, dissolving our LLC and getting a higher umbrella policy.

There's been a couple mentions of lawyers which aren't in my area, so I should ask: Is there any drawback to not using a lawyer in my area? I just assumed they would need to be nearby for signing papers and whatnot. 

@Lynn M.  

This is what I'm afraid of. But at the same time, in my current business, we went at it completely without lawyers or CPAs etc. and made several mistakes right from the start that costs us thousands and exposed us to huge risks. I really want to avoid that if possible but at the same time I don't want a lawyer who is just extracting unnecessary fees from me. That's why I'm trying so hard to find a GOOD one who will help and not hurt my business. 

I called out to all my friends on Facebook for recommendations.  I also have a lot of entrepreneurial friends, so they were a good group to ask.  You probably know the quality of your FB friends list and know if this would be a good avenue or not. 

Originally posted by @Brandon G.:

@Ned Carey 

Networking has always been my weak point. Especially since I'm just starting out I feel like seasoned investors won't take me seriously. But once I gain a bit of knowledge I will feel more confident to get out there.

P.S. pic added.

Thanks for the picture.  When I tried to Mention you with the @ sign it kept saying account closed . Now I know which person to select if I try to mention you.  :-)  

Regarding people taking you seriously, we were all new once.  As you can see here there are a ton of experienced investors will to patiently answer new investor questions. You will find people like this in your local market too. 

@Brandon G.   Congratulations, this topic has hit the "Trending Discussions" list.  See people are already taking you more seriously.

@Brandon G.   it is very likely a single attorney can do all of your needs at this time.  it is dirt easy to set up a corporation , what is more important is the explanation of how to run it so you observe all of the corporate formalities to avoid a piercing the veil lawsuit down the road.  Upwards of 80% of the lawyers out there can set up a corporation for you.  You do not need an expert in asset protection at this point unless you are already very wealthy and if that was the case you would already have an attorney for that need.

I would go with a local attorney.  They know the local laws and it is easier to learn their reputation.

I have had good luck getting loans in a new corporation, but I must personally guaranty those loans.  I have found interest rates to be about 1% higher for a corporation as compared to the loan being in my name personally.

There are several very good lawyers on BP from your area who already do real estate and could help you or give you a good referral.  Ask them how much they charge and if they charge for 5 minute calls or charge 40$ for having a secretary copy a document for you.  they all need to make money but some are more worried about money than their client.  I have never liked the service of big law firms generally, small or solo attorneys often give the best service.  kind of like having a family doctor for colds even a broken bone.  You don't need a surgeon for a cold or the flu.  A good lawyer knows when to call in a specialist and will recommend it if you need one.  There are greedy folks in every profession, look for one who seems to care about you and your plans.  Hope this helps.

Thanks for all the help everyone. I've gotten several referrals here so I'll be looking into those next week. 

@Jerry W.  Thanks for the advice. I agree that so many people nowadays are more worried about extracting every last dollar possible rather than providing quality service for the client and that's in every field. I'll be sure to ask about their fees. 

Filing the paperwork to form the company isn't my big concern. I just need some advice on how to best set it up. I have one company already and it will to some degree be intermingled with the RE business and I need someone to advise me on how to go about that the proper way. 

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