Lawyers

Jul, 15 2019

Lawyers

We spend a lot of time in this space talking about change. Change is positive. Change is forward looking. But today, we focus on something that will never change.

Anyone reading this blog has probably sat through a few dozen closings or so. Does it strike anyone odd the person in charge of flipping over the mounds of paper during a closing probably spent over $200K dollars for the privilege to do so?

Georgia is one of the ten, “attorney States” in the U.S. The vast majority of the Country are “title States”. This means, to “close on a property” in Georgia, an attorney must oversee the process from start to finish. Most of America gets to use an employee of the Title Company to, “close on a property”.

A law degree versus a GED with training? Certainly seems like a false equivalence. The average cost of a law degree, including undergraduate studies, is over $200K dollars. To be honest, I couldn’t find a high school diploma requirement for being a title company employee who closes on property. We’re only assuming that’s the case.

Does this mean Georgians pay more than the rest of the County for our closing process? I would certainly hope so! I would hate to think most of the Country is paying lawyer salaries for simple administrative functions. Yes, closings in Georgia would be cheaper and more cost-efficient if we didn’t require an actual lawyer to flip the pages. But’s that’s never going to happen.

Multi-million dollar corporations can be bought and sold through a series of keystrokes. But, God forbid, a 2-bedroom Condo in Tucker transacts without someone well versed in both Evidence and Constitutional Litigation. Let’s be honest; it’s hard to see Georgia’s legal requirement on property closings as anything more than a gift to the legal community.

If you thought there were too many realtors, be glad you aren’t a lawyer. According to the American Bar Association, from the 1970s to 2011, the number of lawyers in the United States tripled! (From 400K to 1.2M) Our population over that same time grew only 45%. Economic modelers will tell you we have been creating twice as many law graduates as there are job openings for them. This creates what they call “surplus lawyers”. Over twenty five thousand surpluses every year.

The National Association for Law Placement, shows the percentage of 2014 law graduates unemployed and seeking work, was 3X that of the class of 2010. Bummer for them, but worry not, Georgia has their back! Attention Surpluses, the State of Georgia is wide open and a virtual lock as an uncontested safe haven for work. The legal water is always warm in Georgia.

As Georgians, we accept the fact we pay more. We’re over it. But, as graduates in the gold standard of higher education, can’t our lawyers make the closing process a little less painful? Seriously, no one is the least bit interested in the amount of office rent they pay. We get it, you paid a lot. But, must we go there? Didn’t video conferencing address this issue back in the 90’s?

Why do all closing tables seat 24? Because nothing important ever happens at a small table. Do we really need this stage craft? Why aren’t all closings the same price? Is the legal process different for a $120K home as it is for an $800K home? Want to bet the cheaper home is NEVER more expensive.

Look, pay no attention to the lawyers behind the curtain. And, don’t even think to complain about our legal costs. The group charted to oversee our State’s closing process, the Georgia Real Estate Closing Attorney Association, GRECAA, https://grecaa.com/, are the very same people whose names are atop the logos of the largest law firms in Atlanta. Imagine that? The deck is rigged, and their side gets extra turns?

That said, I get asked all the time; “who is a good closing attorney”? Or, “what do you think of John Doe as my closer”? “Oh no, I hear his law degree is from Duke! Safety school lawyers are the worst”.

I always tell agents to review a candidates grades in Civil Procedure as a reflection on….Nah, just kidding. Shop by location! No matter where, a Closing Attorney can be found within the arc of any swinging cat. So, make your life convenient.

Also check online reviews. If you read a lot of words like; easy, quick, and simple, that lawyer is probably good enough. It’s pretty simple. The only real unknown is what kind of chocolates they’re going to be serving.

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