Areas of work, specialisms and alternatives

What is real estate law? A guide for aspiring solicitors

19 Aug 2023, 16:21

There are plenty of opportunities for trainees to take on early responsibility working on real estate cases.

A row of houses

Real estate work often revolves around commercial properties, whether that is offices, retail stores or other sites. Commercial nous and the ability to translate legal concepts into plain English for clients will serve trainees well.

What is real estate law?

Real estate solicitors assist businesses in the acquisition, occupation, ongoing management and disposal of their trading premises. They also help landlords to secure their income streams by letting premises to occupiers. Typical transactions range from the acquisition of a flagship retail store on Oxford Street to the investment sale or purchase of a mixed-use building.

What do real estate solicitors do?

Solicitors have many transactions running at any one time – sometimes as many as 15 or 20. Teams are typically as small as just two lawyers. The transactions do not often have rigid deadlines but there is a need to be proactive and progress them as quickly as possible to achieve the client’s ambitions. An essential part of the job is meeting and socialising with clients, real estate brokers and other people in the industry.

What is life like as a real estate law trainee?

Trainees assist with all aspects of the transaction. This could be reviewing the landlord’s title to the property and replies to standard enquiries giving information about the property, assisting with the negotiation and drafting of documentation, reporting to the client, taking instructions and meeting with clients.

What skills do you need to be a real estate solicitor?

The high-value and time sensitive nature of real estate and its client base means that business acumen, negotiation skills, teamwork and drafting skills are all valuable in real estate solicitors. A passion for the sector, as well as a proactive and methodical mindset, will also be useful.

Types of law practised within real estate

  • Contract
  • Tort
  • Property
  • Employment
  • Landlord and tenant
  • Property litigation

How much can I earn in real estate law?

You will likely undertake real estate law as a seat on a training contract as part of a rotation and may specialise later. You can take a look at our article on How much you can earn as a trainee solicitor to get a broader picture of how much law firms pay trainees, but it’s not uncommon for firms with UK offices to offer £50,000 to trainees in their first year, rising to anywhere up to and above £100,000 upon qualification.

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