Qualities to Look for in a Real Estate Lawyer

Congratulations!  You are a real estate agent and you just found that perfect house for your client.  You watch with joy as your clients mentally plan where their furniture will go and imagine the happy memories that they will have in that home. 

Then, your clients turn to you and ask, “Do you have a real estate lawyer that you recommend?” How do you answer that question? 

Giving a recommendation is more than just pulling a name from the Yellow Pages or Google.  That recommendation attaches to your professional reputation. Therefore, it is crucial to select someone trustworthy and exceptional. 

While you may have done your part to perfection, it is human nature to remember the last interaction. This means that when your clients think back to your service, the closing will be a large part of that memory. 

The right referral will add to the overall value that you provide your clients. The wrong referral will have your clients questioning your overall judgment. 

How can you choose?  Here are some of the qualities that are crucial to selecting the right real estate lawyer. 

Experience and Expertise

The first thing that you want to consider is a lawyer’s experience and expertise. Some questions to ask include: 

  • How long have they been practising? 
  • Where did they go to law school?
  • Where else have they practised?
  • Do they specifically list “real estate” as one of their practice areas?

The Law Society of Ontario provides some of this information in its directory.  For example, real estate lawyers in Ontario must be specifically insured to offer those services to the public.  Is your lawyer properly insured? It will also list if a lawyer has any practice restrictions or has been disciplined.

Some lawyers choose to solely handle real estate transactions whereas others prefer the litigation that can arise from real estate transactions. Firms like Beeksma Law provide comprehensive and sound legal advice in both areas. 

Ideally, there are no disputes during or after a real estate transaction. However, an experienced real estate agent knows that disagreements can arise.  When that happens, a savvy realtor is prepared with recommendations for their clients. 

Attention to Detail 

Real estate transactions tend to follow a pattern and an efficient lawyer will have checklists and protocols for each type of transaction. However, just like each client is unique, each transaction is also unique.  You are not providing cookie cutter service and neither should anyone that you recommend. 

A high-caliber real estate lawyer knows the questions to ask at the beginning to really learn about their clients.  Understanding their motivations, as well as any roadblocks that may arise, helps a legal professional be proactive. Issues may arise; however, getting ahead of them is a key skill to succeeding as a real estate lawyer. 

Never should a real estate transaction be treated as “run-of-the-mill”.  Instead, a sharp lawyer will give advice with your client’s specific situation in mind. 

This is also where a lawyer that handles real estate litigation is helpful for your transactions.  For example, having litigated transactions that have failed to close, Beeksma Law knows how to avoid unnecessary exposure to liability.

Responsiveness 

Real estate transactions are, by nature, fast-paced. Timing is absolutely everything. Meeting a deadline can make the difference between a deal closing or not. 

You need a law firm that will be responsive so that your transaction can move forward. A lawyer may have years of experience and a wide breadth of experience; however, that is of no use to you if you cannot contact them!

For the sake of your clients and your own peace of mind, the real estate lawyer that you want on your team must be a strong and responsive communicator.  

Client-Focused

While all professionals in the service industry should be client-focused, this takes on new meaning in a real estate transaction. Buying a home is the single largest purchase many of us make in our lifetimes. 

However, buying a home is simply not a purchase, and leaving a home is not simply a sale.  A home is deeply connected to our peace of mind and our personal security. It’s the place where traditions are created and passed down. A home is where we build our lives with our partners, raise our children, and celebrate so many of our milestones. 

Understandably, many clients have a lot of questions and concerns about buying or selling a home. This is especially true for first-time buyers since many concepts are being introduced for the first time. 

How should a lawyer answer those questions? Patiently and clearly. A good lawyer knows the law, but a great lawyer can take complex concepts and explain them in a way that is digestible and easy to understand. A lawyer’s ability to share information will be the key to helping your clients feel empowered, and not overwhelmed, when buying a home. 

Protect Your Reputation

As mentioned at the outset, your reputation is your most important asset as a real estate agent. Your clients trust you to give them good advice about their purchase or sale, and that includes the other professionals that you recommend. 

At Beeksma Law, we understand what a privilege it is when another professional introduces us to their clients. We view it as a high honour, but also as a weighty responsibility. 

We are an award-winning law firm that has been recognized multiple times for our work in the real estate field.  Our clients rave about our professionalism, but also our kind and patient approach.  Our peers in the legal industry recognize the high pedigree of education and experience that we provide. 

For each and every one of our clients, excellence is the minimum standard that you can expect.  Shayna Beeksma and her team have built a reputation based on their client-focused practice, their ability to leverage technology to be even more responsive, and their strategic and attentive approach to each new transaction. 

We would be happy to discuss whether our practice is a good fit for your clients.  You can book a call with us here

The 4 C’s of Choosing a Law Firm

Choosing a law firm is no small feat. The Law Society of Ontario reports over 57,000 lawyer licenses, so how can you choose? 

There are several factors to consider, but first, it is important to note the impact of this decision. Whether it’s ensuring that your last wishes are protected or making sure that your first home purchase runs smoothly, you turn to a lawyer to protect the parts of your life that you hold dear. 

However, there are factors that you can consider when choosing a lawyer.  Here are just four to think about: 

  • Credentials and accomplishments
  • Competence
  • Compatibility and Core Values
  • Client Reviews

Credentials and Accomplishments

At a minimum, all lawyers in Ontario must be licensed with the Law Society of Ontario.  However, look for other signs that your lawyer is respected within their field. For example, are they members of professional organizations? 

Have they been recognized or been recipients of any awards? Where have they gained their experience? How long have they been in practice? 

Consider your lawyer’s background.  After receiving her education at one of Canada’s top law schools, Shayna Beeksma gained experience at Gowling WLG, one of Canada’s most prestigious law firms. 

Additionally, she has supplemented that high-caliber pedigree by practicing with a boutique and mid-sized law firm, gaining well-rounded experience that has served her well since she opened her firm in 2018. Shayna has combined her Bay Street pedigree with a Main Street sensibility to her clients’ benefits.

Besides being a sharp legal advocate, Shayna Beeksma is an active member of her community.  Some of the organizations that she works with include:

  • Rotary Club of Hamilton AM (Current Board Member)
  • Telling Tales (Current Board Member)
  • Christian Legal Fellowship (Past Board Member)
  • Reverend John C. Holland Awards (Beeksma Law is the annual sponsor of the Lincoln Alexander Award, awarded to a Black high school or postsecondary student for breaking down barriers in the community)
  • Mamas & Co. (Mentor, Guest Conference Speaker, and Guest Coach for Mom Bosses)
  • Pollinators (a vibrant community for female entrepreneurs)
  • BNI SCORE (Stoney Creek)
  • The Entrepreneur Nation (Ancaster)
  • Hamilton Law Association (CPD Subcommittee Member)
  • Ontario Bar Association
  • Advocates Society
  • Canadian Association of Black Lawyers

Shayna Beeksma is committed to the practice of the law and improving the profession as a whole. 

Competence 

In Ontario, all lawyers are barristers and solicitors. What does that mean? All lawyers in Ontario can handle the transactional and planning portions of the law, along with the litigation or court-related aspects.  Each lawyer chooses the areas of law and the types of services that they offer. 

Some firms thrive in handling disputes, while others shine in preparing transactions.  Yet others, such as Beeksma Law, provide comprehensive and well-rounded legal advice in both spheres. 

Leaning on her wealth of legal experience, Shayna uses her keen legal skills to advocate for her clients.  She has appeared at various levels of court, including the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. She has also argued cases before the Divisional Court, the Ontario Court of Appeal, and the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board. 

Besides being a fierce advocate, Shayna is strategic and effective in estate planning, structuring business transactions, and handling real estate transactions. Her experience allows her to prevent issues before they arise. Of course, the very best way to avoid disagreements is to ensure that terms are clear throughout the process.

Consider the ease of working with a law firm that provides full advice and expertise in an area of law.  Beeksma Law provides such knowledge in the areas of Wills & Estates, Business Law, and Real Estate, whether it is planning and transactional matters or any litigation related to those areas.

Compatibility and Core Values

When seeking legal advice, you need to turn to someone you can trust. Therefore, finding the right fit is incredibly important.  This is especially true when seeking a lawyer to deal with challenges, such as facing a loss. 

Meeting with a lawyer will give you a great opportunity to understand whether you are compatible. However, ask questions and be wary of any lawyer who guarantees an outcome – especially in litigation!  There are too many unknowns for a reasonable lawyer to predict with certainty what a court will decide. 

Additionally, choose a lawyer and law firm that truly cares about their clients and about what is best for them.  When you face times of trouble, especially if your visit to a lawyer is preceded by tragedy, you want someone compassionate and kind. 

As mentioned above, Beeksma Law is active within the legal community and committed to improving the profession. Shayna and her team strongly believe in ensuring that justice is accessible to all. Furthermore, Beeksma Law believes in achieving high results for their clients: excellence is truly their minimum standard. 

Client Reviews 

The best way to know what it’s like to work with a lawyer or law firm is to ask someone who has already been there! Ask your family and friends for referrals and review online reviews. 

Look for testimonials such as: 

“There were a lot of unknowns about [buying my first house], so your patience with me, your willingness to share and explain things in simpler ways and your shared excitement were a huge blessing.”

“I cannot say how professional and compassionate Beeksma Law is. We needed someone who would do all the lawyer stuff for us, but we also needed someone who genuinely cared. That sums up Beeksma Law for me.”

“We were always confident that our real estate deals were being handled perfectly…I would not hesitate to recommend Beeksma Law to anyone who wants to be sure that their real estate transactions will be handled by the best in the business.”

Beeksma Law and Shayna Beeksma have also been recognized by the Hamilton Spectator and by Hamilton Community News.  They were voted the Platinum Winners of the 2019 & 2020 Hamilton Spectator’s Readers’ Choice Awards in the law firm, real estate law firm, lawyer and real estate lawyer categories.  Additionally, Shayna Beeksma was voted the 2021 Platinum Winner of the Hamilton Community News’ Readers’ Choice Awards in the lawyer category.

Carefully Consider Your Options 

Choosing a lawyer for your business, real estate, and estate planning is a serious matter. However, by considering the above four factors, you can confidently have your legal issues resolved by someone you enjoy working with and trust. 

If Beeksma Law has the competence, credentials, core values, and client reviews that align with you, then we welcome the opportunity to work with you. Book an online consultation, and we will be happy to speak with you.