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Every property-related deal in Singapore requires the endorsement of a lawyer. Appointing the right property lawyer for your requirement will allow you to better communicate your ideas and concerns across, minimizing on stress, cost and time. While choosing a lawyer may be subjective, there are some factors and traits you can look out for to ensure a smooth and fuss-free process. Read on to find out LegallySmart’s tips on picking the best suited property lawyer for your transaction!
In the competitive market of conveyancing, many lawyers now offer free consultation to prospective clients to help clear up any doubts or questions they might have. This is a good opportunity for the lawyer to determine if they are confident on your case, as well as for you to get acquainted and make your own judgments if the attorney in question is someone who can truly help you.
It is advised that you make appointments with a few of these lawyers to weigh out your options before settling for one. The initial encounters and conversations could be accurate tell-tale signs of their experience on the type of legal service you require.
Another method is to ask questions; if your case is a complicated one, seek their thoughts on their confidence level and chances of success. From their responses, observe their body language. Honesty (or lack thereof) will prevail. Avoid someone who finds it difficult to communicate their true thoughts to you and tries to code their words with underlying intentions. In the legal industry, there is no guarantee and every case will have its risks. Learn to be instinctive and discerning when you meet a lawyer who is forthcoming and does not overpromise on these downsides.
A legal transaction can be very black-and-white and yet, very personal. You should put your money and trust in someone whose character you can trust. You must be able to feel you can confide in him/her and that he/she is a person who stands firm on his/her principles. This is especially so when a complicated case might make you feel like you are at war. During this time, it is crucial to find a lawyer who can see things from your perspective and is patient to fight for you. Different types of characters cultivate different vibes. Someone who is questionable outside of his work-desk might affect your chances on your case if he/she has a bad reputation. Especially in long-running cases, we cannot emphasize how important honesty is. This was always meant to be a given in a professional legal practitioner.
Remember, honesty is the best policy!
As previously suggested, while asking the right questions during consultation, take notice of how responsive and meticulous the lawyer is.
Remember to ask if he/she can be contacted directly. A responsive attorney will not hesitate to create that point of contact. Rather, if the lawyer seems unwilling and delegates this to a paralegal or secretary, should you pass this case to them, it might brew trouble as you struggle to contact them to share your thoughts or clarify on your queries.
Look out for a property lawyer who is eager and takes initiative to hear you out. A communicative lawyer is one who takes pride in his/her work and is responsible. Many of the most experienced lawyers in the market are generally more elderly and might not be as technologically savvy as the younger lawyers, who are less experienced but could be more savvy and responsive. Should your case be a complicated one, it is better to choose the more experienced lawyers, but do take note to obtain a direct contact number. With all that said, it is still difficult to judge solely on a first meeting their subsequent behaviour and attitude on follow-ups and promptness. During the consultation, you might want to throw them off with some tacky questions to see their willingness to explain in layman terms or if they choose to avoid it by brushing it off with “I will send you an email later on” or “I will get my secretary or manager to call you.” This could be a very accurate sign for lack of responsiveness.
Most legal fees charged include periodic updates on your case by mail. Do remember to keep those letters and take note of when they were dated. If every next letter was religiously dated with the same time gap, you know you definitely scored yourself a meticulous lawyer.
When it comes to price, it is sensible to do research and market survey before committing to a firm. Most law firms will quote based on their standard prices with no Government Service Tax (GST) included.
It is important to bear in mind that more often than not, price is directly correlated to the quality of service. That is not to say the most expensive is the best – but paying a reasonable market rate allows you to also be able to expect good service quality and be in a better position to bargain in an event the “expectation” falls short. After all, you pay for what you get.
All price quotation and scope of the package should be clarified from the initial meeting. You should engage someone you can afford. It would be a nightmare to find out later that the property lawyer you have appointed is charging you for every other service provided which you so innocently “thought” was included in the scope of things. The last thing you want is a lawyer who drags on a case to charge you unnecessarily. Try to obtain a quotation in writing to prevent unwanted surprises while on the case. A property attorney who wants to help you and does not want disagreements on pricing in the future will have no qualms to have this clarified on the onset. Make sure the price you have agreed on is net with no other hidden charges.
It really depends on the type of legal service you require:
Smaller boutique firms typically charge less while bigger firms charge a little more – due to their sheer size, brand and indemnity. Smaller firms can afford to give you better undivided attention and customized service. In bigger firms, lawyers have to deal with multiple projects simultaneously and it might be tougher for them to do the same.
An experienced property lawyer would have been through many types of cases in the duration of their career thus far. Their exposure allows them to better advise you, since every case is unique. You can expect to tap on their legal knowledge and connections. They also know the protocols and how to strategically move the case forward without wasting resources such as time or money. Most lawyers are only this agile when it is their area of specialization. It is important to find out which areas they have a track record for and hence are good at – so they can better handle your transaction and boost your chances of winning or completing your transaction on time.
Most lawyers can generally do basic contracts that are non-complex, but for more complex cases, and to receive better advise, you should make sure to engage a lawyer with the same area of specialization as the service you require. Legal knowledge and experience in a certain field is crucial to help protect your interests best.
Some of the more common methods include:
Word-of-mouth or asking for references as a means of recommendation is the easiest way to get information of a lawyer but that is not to say it is the best way. Did the colleague, friend or family who recommended this lawyer receive first hand service from them? Can they vouch for their service? The intermediaries involved in your transaction – Estate agents, mortgage brokers, bankers. Surely they can introduce a lawyer too. However, making an informed decision is about doing your own market research homework and comparing alternatives before committing to the best suited attorney. Something to note is a lawyer who has carved a good reputation for himself/herself will be able to better represent and handle your case for longer. This can be easily verified by asking friends or family who also work in the legal industry.
Another method would be to search up the directory for lawyers. They will be listed according to their field of specialization and years of experience. From thereon, you may proceed to the firm of the lawyer who you are interested to engage and make first contact with them either via phone or e-mail. This method, however, will solely be based on their paper credentials and might not be the most effective.
Reviews and forums online can be very informative at times, but how can you verify that the keyboard warrior is not marketing his/her own business? How sure are you of their identities? Be sure to check out the appraisals of the service of a firm from both past and present to look for consistency in service quality.
A good decision should be made based on weighing out the facts and information at hand. Legal transactions can go both ways – it can get very complex or it could just be very dry and transactional. Considering all these factors, we hope you make the most informed decision on the right property lawyer to best represent your matter and lighten whatever you already have on hand. Remember, what is popular may not necessarily be the best or most tailored service. As the consumer, you have the final say.
With LegallySmart, our founding partners’ joint years of experience have allowed us to connect with a wide range of legal professionals specializing in various fields. Feel free to tap on our network for a short-cut to source out the best property lawyer for your case. The service we provide to answer your queries is free-of-charge and we work on a goodwill basis. We exchange our knowledge in return for your trust.