Preparing To Meet With A Canadian Real Estate Lawyer

It can be a waste of time for both you and the Canadian real estate lawyer if you aren't prepared for your first meeting, because it will take longer for the lawyer you hire to get up to speed on your legal matter.

  • First of all, the real estate lawyer will want to know who you are and how you can be contacted. The real estate lawyer may also ask for a personal and business background. The lawyer will clearly want to understand your relationship to any business and will want to be comfortable that you have the authority to speak on behalf of any organization. Therefore, you need to write down all this information in a logical matter and have it available for the real estate lawyer.
  • Sometimes, a Canadian real estate lawyer will try to speed the information gathering process by sending you a questionnaire to fill out before your meeting. If this happens, be sure to fill out the questionnaire and send it in to the real estate lawyer's office before the meeting. Also send along copies of any available documents that may be requested in the questionnaire.
  • Before you get too far into a meeting or conversation, the real estate lawyer is going to want to know about possible conflicts of interest. He or she will want to know the names of all other parties involved. If the real estate lawyer or the lawyer's firm represents anyone on the other side of the legal matter, he or she will have a conflict and will usually not be able to represent you.

Documentation

Written documentation is especially important in a business setting. So even if a Canadian real estate lawyer doesn't ask for documentation beforehand, it is still a good idea to bring a copy of all documents relevant to your situation to the meeting. Spend some time thinking about what you may have on hand. Try to organize the documents in a logical manner before you meet with the real estate lawyer.

  • Bring a copy of all documentation relating to the real property at issue. If you are a Canadian homeowner, bring the purchase or sale agreement and mortgage documentation.
  • If you have a problem with a lease, documentation would include the lease itself.
  • Bring any information you have to evidence payments that were made (for example, bank statements, canceled checks, money order receipts). If you're involved in a foreclosure proceeding, bring a copy of all foreclosure documents that you've received.
  • Bring the originals and a copy of correspondence that you may have sent to or received from the financial institution involved in the matter.
  • Because of identity fraud issues, real estate lawyers may require photo ID from you.
  • Dates can be critical. Get a calendar and mark down dates of when things happened and when you received any notices or other documents. Bring the calendar to your meeting to use as a reference.
  • If anybody guaranteed a loan or a lease for you, the real estate lawyer will want to know who the guarantor is. You should have this information available, as well as a copy of any guaranty documentation.
  • Your real estate lawyer will want to know who you talked with, including the names of any representatives at the financial institution. You should have names, addresses, and telephone numbers available.
  • Letters, memos and other correspondence relating to the matter.

Preparing Questions for the Real Estate

Prepare a list of questions to take with you to your first meeting. In theory, no question is too silly to ask. Keep in mind, though, that you don't want to scare a real estate lawyer out of representing you. Some questions you might ask a real estate lawyer would include:

  • If you are hiring a real estate lawyer to review or negotiate a contract, you would want to ask questions about the Canadian real estate lawyer's background:
    • How many transactions of a similar nature has the real estate lawyer handled?
    • How much of his or her work is done in this area?
    • What paperwork is involved and how long will it take to finalize?
    • How would the real estate lawyer go about handling your situation? What is the process?
    • How long will it take to bring the matter to a conclusion?
    • How would the real estate lawyer charge for his or her services?
    • What is the real estate lawyer's hourly rate?
    • What would the estimated fees be for your matter?
    • Does the real estate lawyer advance out of pocket costs?
    • Would there be a retainer payable up front? Would any unused portion be refundable?
    • Would the real estate lawyer handle the case personally or would it be passed on to some other real estate lawyer in the firm? If other real estate lawyers may do some of the work, could you meet them?

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