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I am about to close my co-op however I found my lawyer (recommended by a friend) was incompetent. He made a mistake and caused me one month delay on closing (because co-op board only met once a month and he missed the monthly deadline. On top of that, he did not pick up calls often and I had to trace him down every day. Later on I found out he was "disciplined" and it was too late to change the lawyer. I paid 50% at front and will need to pay the rest 50% at close. However, I am really unhappy about his service. Can I pay me a reduced fee?
Any suggestion is appreciated.
Isle_of_Lucy should be able to help you. She (he) knows everything!!!!
That's what you get for taking a lawyer that has an online degree from education connection dot com.....and trying to save some pennies in paralegal/printing fees.
We had a similar issue. Attorney was all over us at the onset, but then becamse more and more invisible. He came highly recommended, not only by people on this board, but also people in "meatspace".
I had a conversation with the managing partner, who not only knew all about our closing, but seemed surprised by my complaint. Nevertheless, he took over the case, and assigned somebody else to the closing, who was, fortunately, *very* sharp, and *very* responsive. Somebody I would use again.
Speak immediately with the managing partner of the firm. Paying a reduced fee is not the way to "handle" this kind of situation, because you're not getting a service you need. The fee is almost irrelevant.
Thank you Isle_of_lucy. My lawyer owns his firm so there is no one I can talk to. Should I just pay for the full amount and learn a lesson? Should I talk to him to reduce his fee and list all the reasons I am not satisfied? (Will I get into trouble, if there is something wrong in the contract in the future and I can not sue him for his stupidity?)
To Parker1205. The lawyer came with high recommendations (via two friends) and went to one of the top universities, and in this case, he is not cheap.
Try to negotiate it down, 265E66. Communicate your reasons for being dissatified in an e-mail. Detail the addtional cost to you for the delay.
It may get work and if not at least you will have it in writing.
Does anything look wrong to you in the rest of the contract? His behavior has got you (rightfull so) nervous but perhaps there won't be any more problems. You can file a complaint with the Bar Association but don't expect them to negotiate with him for you.
It's expensive and time consuming to sue him and he may claim that the listing broker gave him incorrect info about the board meeting. You can take your contract to another RE lawyer (contact the Bar Association for recommendations) to be reviewed for other potential problems. You may be relieved to find out that there's nothing else in it to worry about, for the price of an hour or so of work for reviewing it.
Wow, that is indeed a problem. Your first concern should be getting proper representation at your closing, and obviously making sure that due diligence has been performed correctly. Before jumping ship, I would have a face-to-face with him, listing all the specific issues/problems that you've had (in a non-accusatory, objective manner), and see if you can come to some sort of reconciliation. Lay out your expectations, perhaps you can have a meeting of the minds.
Going another route, depending on how much clout your recommending friends have, you may want to ask them to run interference, if you think that might work. I know that's touchy, but if two friends recommended him highly, perhaps their relationship with him could smooth the way for you.
If all else fails, see if you can postpone the closing, and get yourself a responsive attorney.
Regarding the fee, I would not pay anything unless the original closing attorney's work came to fruition. In other words, if he doesn't close, I would withhold payment. But again, I would try other tactics before it came to that.
Unfortunate situation, I'm sorry you're in this pickle.
> correction: It may work...
sometimes it can be very satisfying to fire an incompetent attorney and get another one, even at this juncture and even if it costs more money. better safe than sorry.
You can fire him, just get the contract reviewed by another RE lawyer that has been recommended by the Bar, after first trying to nego his fee down by e-mail.
Then you will have had the lease reviewed by a lawyer who will be ready to step in and close and have your e-mail communication with the former lawyer on file.
Issue here is that you hired a solo practitioner, probably for a really good set fee. Problem is that these guys have no time as they are running around and what time they do have they want to devote to matters they can bill hourly. Firms are more expensive, but there you have a bigger team that has more time to walk you through the process.
I know this because I also hired a solo practitioner and so did the seller and they were both totally unresponsive and did not really seem to know what was going on ever. Someone should do a thread about what to expect for different fees for lawyers. Just getting a recommendation is pretty useless (based on many examples on this board).
^ Interesting point about thethe solo practitioner, ottawnyc. At our closing, the seller's attorney was a solo, and I have never seen anybody appear so incompetent at anything. Granted, his wife had just had a baby several days prior, but it was almost like seller hired somebody totally out of his realm.....a swim instructor.....or a beekeeper, perhaps.
Lawyers are a tough bunch. Some of them suck, some of them are good. In my experience, many can handle a real estate transaction but will take various and unusual roads to get there. Some may charge too much, some may be incommunicado most of the day, but usually they can close the transaction correctly...eventually.
In my opinion, what to look for...
1. The practice of law is a service industry. It is about making clients feel comfortable about the process and not scared to ask question. It is very important to find someone who is capable of making a client feel comfortable.
2. The fee arrangement and hourly rate. Fees are bull shit. A lawyer may quote you $450.00 per hour or $275.00 per hour, it doesn't mean much. Neither guarantees the job is done properly and the lower hourly cost attorney may take twice as long to do the job.
Don't be scared to use a lawyer that costs more per hour. Don't think either that a higher rate equates to higher service or a better attorney.
Finally flat fees are flat fees. They just guarantee the job is done for a certain agreed upon price. Remember (regardless of wrong or right) a lawyer who is under a flat fee may not feel that great about
going out of the way because it takes more time.
3. An experienced attorney over a flashy one. Knowledge is key. An attorney who understands the process regardless of how mundane is key. One that is there for the client and available to answer all questions. Look for an attorney that will say NO if something doesn't look good or correct. A lawyer SHOULD be a professional, try to find one that knows this.
How to pick an attorney
1. I still think word of mouth is the best way. I think it is important to listen to others experiences and listen to recommendations.
2. NEVER ASK A BROKER. Many lawyers get hired because of a broker recommendation, I wouldn't be to excited about this if I was looking for an attorney. The lawyers and brokers develop relationships over time and the question becomes who is the client? The lawyer wants repeat business and sometimes will just OKAY the transaction.
3. I am not to big on referrals on street easy either.
Things that don't matter
1. Size of the firm
2. Where you went to law school or college 10 years ago
3. Office location
I like what Consigliere says, except the "never ask for a recommendation broker" part.
I realize SE is all about bashing brokers, that is the dominant leitmotif here. But this is seriously bad advice, I'm speaking now as a real estate investor, not as an agent (which I also am). When I enter a new market, I hire the attorney my broker recommends, you had better believe I do.
Why? The best real estate agents I have hired in my life, and I have hired a LOT of them, were all recommended by brokers. When I go out on my own looking up somebody's website, that is when I end up adding to my gray hair supply.
Brokers who want to make a living, and most of them do, want attorneys that can make the deal go through. Deal closing attorneys, not deal killing attorneys. Usually, that's a good thing for the client. (Not always, but that's a separate post.)
Clients who hate the attorney will report back to the broker, and clients who love the attorney will also report back to the broker. I get feedback from almost every client about their attorney. I keep track of this, and so do other experienced agents.
To me a good attorney means somebody who knows how to solve problems and is responsive to client concerns, even if the client concerns are rather silly (and often they are).
The biggest danger with ANY real estate lawyer is that they will rush through things without checking enough. I had a $7000 undiscovered lien on a property that closed that should have been caught, for example. It was a water bill, that's about as routine as it gets. Title insurance paid that post-closing but that should have been discovered before closing.
I had another closing (again, my own property) where the sellers had a lien they didn't tell anybody about that was discovered at the closing table. What they were trying to pull, I have no idea. Well, that was a mess. We were there for a long time, but in the end, it got worked out and we closed that day (transferred title).
OP, no, you probably cannot obtain a reduced fee because you entered into some kind of fee agreement I assume, nor do you want to do it that way. You have a hireling who is giving you service under your expectations, and now you want to discourage them even more? Not a way to get what you want.
Keep your eye on the ball. Either fire them and hire somebody else, or pay the agreed-upon fee, but do speak up about your concerns with them.
kharby [at] RutenbergRealtyNY [dot] com
Sorry, that should have read "best real estate attorneys I have hired in my life"
"Brokers who want to make a living, and most of them do, want attorneys that can make the deal go through. Deal closing attorneys, not deal killing attorneys. Usually, that's a good thing for the client. (Not always, but that's a separate post.)"
This is the problem, brokers should have no say due to the conflict of interest. The attorney is here for SAFETY, not to push the deal through. The broker (as you say) "want attorneys that can make the deal go through." This is the opposite of what the Client needs. The client hires a lawyer for protection and understanding of the law. They need to know if the property they're buying is safe to own. Not to "make the deal go through."
Brokers SHOULD NOT (IMO) recommend an attorney, there is a problem with this because it also becomes an issue of who is the client? If an attorney keeps being "recomended" by the broker, this creates a major issue because the broker becomes the client...that is not what it is supposed to be.
As for your water lien, was it in the title report? If it wasn't, how is that the attorney's fault?
I agree 100% with Consigliere ... and moreover, you still need to anticipate that something will go wrong, and litigation will ensue. Any relationship at that point between your attorney and your broker will be a Bozo no-no, to your own detriment.
Besides, as with doctor referrals, you're more likely to get the referrer's golf buddy, not a professional referral.
Clients need deal-oriented attorneys who arent concerned about pleasing
a broker who refers clients to themj.
There are many times that an attorney has to push for acceptsncance of a
key term or rider even if it means losing the deal, e.g., mortgage closing
contingency to prevent loss of down payment.
Lawyers whose brokers are their de facto clients are a lot less likely to
Not always Consig. I usually give the names of 2 - 3 trusted real estate attorneys to buyers or sellers who ask; in this way, I am covered in any "conflict of interest" that may arise. Furthermore, the attorneys I refer are not deal pushers. If there is a red flag with the building or something off about the contract, they are not opposed to killing the deal or making the seller/buyer completely aware of the situation. Afterall, if I refer a deal pusher attorney, and something goes wrong down the road (even 6 months, 1 year, 5 years), I will loose that client for having referred the wrong representation.
Don't get me wrong, there are brokers who use someone they know will get the deal done regardless of the siutaiton. But they are short-sighted, not relationship-based, and (I'd like to think) in the minority.