Real Estate Attorneys and Paralegals: A Career Overview

A real estate attorney assists clients with various real estate issues. Many times paralegals assist real estate lawyers in drafting and filing documents. Most real estate attorneys and paralegals have previous experience in other aspects of real estate or law.

Job Functions

Real estate lawyers may advise clients, file legal documents and represent clients in state court relating to real estate matters, according to Real Estate Zing. They also notarize documents and disburse funds in real estate closings. Knowledgeable in property investments, real estate attorneys may assist in sales and acquisitions of commercial property. Real estate lawyers may handle all legal matters related to landlord and tenant matters, mortgages, and foreclosures. Paralegals assist real estate attorneys in various administrative aspects.

Work Environment for Legal Real Estate Professionals

Salaried real estate lawyers generally have fixed work schedules. However, most real estate attorneys own a private practice and work irregular hours. This includes nights and weekends. About 33 percent of attorneys work 50 or more hours per week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Real estate paralegals generally work in an office environment with a standard 40-hour week, according to BLS. Most work year round, while some are temporarily employed during busy times of the year. Real estate paralegals may also work long hours to meet critical deadlines.

Legal Real Estate Education, Training, and Experience

Attorney certification requires a 4-year college degree, three years of law school, and then passing the bar examination. Proficiency in writing, reading, research, and logical thinking are needed for success in law school and in the professional world. Oral communication skills are also important. Experience in the real estate field is also helpful. Those with a multi-disciplinary background and diverse skills are more likely to succeed.

Real estate paralegals with previous real estate experience are valuable. The most common route to becoming a paralegal is via community college paralegal programs leading to an associate degree. Paralegal certificates are available for those with a college degree. A small number of schools offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in paralegal studies. Most paralegals train significantly on the job

Salary of Legal Real Estate Professionals

Real estate lawyer earnings may vary between private practice lawyers and those working for a law firm. Attorneys and law firms may also charge more for complicated real estate matters. In May 2008, attorneys earned a median annual salary of $110,590, according to the BLS lawyer page.

Paralegal wages vary greatly and depend upon education, training, and experience. Those working in large firms or in large metropolitan areas generally earn more than those working for smaller firms or less populated regions. Full-time paralegals earned an average of $46,120 in May 2008, according to BLS paralegal info.

Job Outlook for Legal Real Estate Professionals

Employment for attorneys is expected to grow about as fast as the average, but with high competition. Attorney positions are expected to grow 13 percent during 2008 through 2018, according to BLS. Previous experience and willingness to relocate are commonly required for many positions. Paralegal jobs are projected to grow by 28 percent between 2008 and 2018, reported BLS.