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Finding the Best Real Estate Lawyer: An Interview with Taylor Sellers of Windward Law Group

By Taylor Sellers

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

The Windward Law Group is a boutique real estate firm specializing in residential and commercial real estate closings. Our focus is to provide the best legal service at an affordable price. The firm was founded in 2005 by the Managing Attorney, Dale J. Jackson. Prior to founding the Windward Law Group, Dale was a founder and partner of Jackson & Hardwick, which merged with Morris & Schneider to become the firm now known as Morris, Hardwick & Schneider.

Our main office is located in Alpharetta but we have satellite offices in Duluth, Johns Creek, Dunwoody, Smyrna, and Buckhead. We can also do closings at other locations.

What are some of the services your company provides?

The focus of our firm is real estate transactions. We complete real estate closings for residential and commercial properties, including loan refinances, short sales, 1031 exchanges, and bank owned properties. We draft and review real estate contracts, deeds, easements all other real estate documents.

Finding the right real estate lawyer can seem very overwhelming for a first timer, what is any advice you have for them?

Real estate law is comprised a several subtopics. Finding the right real estate lawyer is often determined by the need of the client. Prior to researching firms, a person should consider their need. Are they trying to prevent foreclosure of their home, evict a tenant for missed rent, or purchase property? Once they determine their goal, research firms with offices in their area that specialize in type of law. When they have selected a few potential firms, contact them through their website or phone.

When it comes down to it, what are the five most important things you need to know about your real estate lawyer before hiring them?

Unfortunately, there are not five questions to ask which will ensure a successful interaction with an attorney. However, the important information to consider in hiring a real estate attorney are the whether the attorney handles the type of real estate law you are requesting, their experience in handling those matters, the price of the work, and the expected length of time of the work.

If a person has done their preliminary research then he/she likely will not call an attorney who does not handle their particular real estate matter. However, just within real estate closings, some attorneys only handle residential real estate while other do commercial closings as well. (Do not be embarrassed if an attorney does not handle the type of work you are requested.) If the attorney does the work you are requesting, you may want to find out how long they have been doing it. Often experience in an area of law correlates with price. In pricing, ask for attorney's fees, if there are other fees, and who is responsible for paying them. In litigation, it may be possible to have the losing side pay for your attorney's fees in some situations. In a real estate closing, there are fees beyond the attorney's fees but often the buyer and seller will share them in some capacity dictated by the contract. If a person does not have a contract, the real estate attorney should be able to draft one. The length of time to resolve a litigated matter may be hard to estimate. However, most closing attorneys can provide an estimated timeline for closing. If the party has a deadline (end of lease or moving out of their house) then it is important to make sure the attorney can close in time for you to me the deadline.

How does the state legislation of Georgia influence real estate law as it pertains to hiring one?

I cannot speak to all the ways the state legislation of Georgia influence real estate law but one specific way that affects homebuyers is the code's definition of the practice of law. The Georgia Code considers "conveyance" and "the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds whereby a legal right is secured" to be practice of law. (O.C.G.A. 15-19-50.) Therefore, the Georgia Code mandates an attorney be present during the closing of a real estate conveyance within the state. Other state legislatures have defined the practice of law differently and do not require an attorney to close the conveyance of real property.

In your opinion, how important are testimonials and recommendations from others when choosing a real estate lawyer?

Testimonials and recommendations from individuals who have hired the firm or attorney are helpful. However, recommendations from other attorneys or real estate professionals are likely to be more helpful. These individuals often work with or have knowledge of a real estate attorney's competency and can therefore provide more insight on their work quality. A friend who had work completed by the firm may be able to comment on the demeanor of an attorney or customer service they received, which is relevant, but may not be able to comment on whether the attorney understands the underlying law, which is most important. An enjoyable experience is insignificant if the property is lost due to a poor title search, improper recording, or incompetent litigating.

How much experience do you think is necessary for a real estate lawyer to have?

There is no definite time frame required to for a real estate lawyer to become proficient in real estate law. Like any profession, more experience is usually better than less experience. However, in picking a real estate attorney, the concentration of the experience is more important than the length. An attorney with two years of focused real estate experience is likely be more knowledgeable in the area real estate law and better serve you than an attorney with twenty five years of experience as a general practitioner or working in another area of the law.

Is it possible to consult with a real estate lawyer free of charge prior to making your decision about them?

Each firm sets its own policy on providing consultations. Therefore, it would depend on the policy of the firm. My firm allows for a free consultation with an attorney prior to making decision. I suspect most firms would provide an opportunity for a free consultation with the attorney prior to making a decision.

What is the best way for people to contact you or your business?

I am in and out of closings throughout the day so the best way to contact me directly is through email. My email address is TSellers@windwardlaw.com. However, please feel free to call at 678-684-1500.

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About The Author

Taylor Sellers was born and raised in middle Georgia. He attended Georgia College &...

Phone: 678-534-2906

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