How to Pick a Real Estate Attorney
Part 3
By Tony Ozelis

Finding a Land Use Attorney

So how do you find one? Fortunately because they usually practice their trade in the public eye, finding a good potential permitting attorney can be fairly easy process.

If you even think you may need a variance or special exception permit for your use, it would do you a world of good to find out when the local board meets and sit in on a few meetings in the town or city that you will be eventually submitting your application to (by law, they should be open to the public).

Over a fairly short period of time (maybe two or three meetings), you’re going to start to see the same names and firms on various commercial applications (We usually ignore the residential “renovation” applications such as pools, decks, garages, etc. as they are rarely represented by the big guys).

Your job, at least at first, will be to sit back, watch and listen. Aside from getting to see someone else’s money being spent for a change, you need to watch how the attorney presents his case; paying special attention to those applications similar to yours.

Generally speaking, you’ll notice that often the larger companies will use the bigger firms and are very well versed in handling their applications. They may charge a bit more than some others, but if they can save you time and money, you should strongly consider using them. Don’t take it personally if they can’t handle your requirement, good land use attorneys can be in big demand during good economic times.

Not sure if you’ll need one? A quick conversation with the local planning department will give you a pretty good indication. Visit our National Resource Map, find your municipality and give them a call.

A safe bet would be anything being built from the ground up, requires renovations or expansions, uses with drive-through windows, most restaurants uses, damn-near every gas station, well…you get the point, if it involves more than paint on the walls, chances are there’s some form of application and/or public hearing and you may want to consult an attorney.


Part Four - Leasing, Subleasing and Purchase Contracts

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