Chapter 11: Choosing a Lawyer
From finding out at what price the seller is willing to sell to you or if a particular property owner is interested in selling, to helping you define your needs and making sure you are always keenly aware of the perspective of the seller, to performing negotiation on your behalf – not to mention writing an airtight contract and closing your agreement – good legal representation is invaluable when buying an apartment in Israel. In fact, besides the actual choice of property, hiring a competent Israeli Lawyer might be your most important choice throughout the transaction.
Although choosing a lawyer is not an exact science, experience is the most secure parameter to guarantee competent legal service. Different lawyers can specialize in different aspects of purchase transactions (taxes, contracts, negotiation, and other aspects), but any experienced Israeli Lawyer should know the ropes.
When Choosing a Lawyer, It Is Advised to Look For the Following:
• Reliable Experience.
Find out how long a lawyer has been practicing law. If a client list is available, take a look at it to see what kinds of people the lawyer has represented in the past. If not, don’t be embarrassed to ask, and don’t ever be “wowed” by names of big corporations and organizations, because such previous clients might have nothing in common with you.
• Good Communication.
Do you need your lawyer to be fluent in a specific language? Do you want them to have experience dealing with institutions in a specific foreign country?
• Convenient Geographical Area.
Israel is not a large country; however, if the case in hand is in the Tel Aviv area, for example, it would be more convenient for all parties to seek an attorney from the center of Israel.
• Relevant Biography.
If the lawyer has a website, look at their biography and review their published areas of expertise. Look for expertise that appears relevant to any pointed questions you may have about the process.
• Strong Reputation.
Perform basic internet research, and find out what kind of publicity has a lawyer gotten in the past. Has the lawyer ever been subjected to a malpractice lawsuit?
• Good Faith.
Research any potential conflicts of interest. Does a lawyer have any personal interest in an aspect of your apartment search? If so, does the personal interest create a potential conflict of interest?
Never hire a lawyer unless you understand one another. If you find yourself in doubt or have further outstanding questions on any matter, it is highly recommended to get a second and third opinion before hiring any lawyer you might be considering. Moreover, it can be risky to allow a lawyer to begin work on your behalf without putting in place first a clear written agreement outlining the payment of legal fees and the obligations of the lawyer.