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04 August 2015

How NOT to be an average Property Lawyer

Published on 04 August 2015
Whether you’re a first home buyer or an experienced property developer, property lawyers are essential when it comes to any decision or transaction. But the nature of property law is that these decisions have significant financial implications and, accordingly, significant potential for disaster. In the hopes of avoiding mistakes altogether, Insights spoke to property law specialist and College of Law lecturer, Simone Dixon, about what it takes to be an excellent property lawyer.

Manage time effectively to meet deadlines
As all our lecturers drilled into us in law school again and again: in property law deadlines are key. As such Dixon’s first tip to aspiring property lawyers is to have a clear idea of the time frames you’re working with.

“As with all lawyers, one of the biggest challenges faced by property lawyers is time management. Property transactions are fast-paced and deadline driven. Property lawyers generally have a number of transactions happening at the same time, leading to conflicting demands,” she said.

“Meeting deadlines while maintaining the excellent attention to detail required is a constant challenge for property lawyers. Critical to this, is an ability to manage client expectations.”

Walk a mile in your client’s shoes
And in order to manage your client’s expectations, you need to understand them.

“What differentiates an excellent property lawyer from a good property lawyer is superior interpersonal and communication skills, combined with a commercial approach. It is essential to understand the client’s commercial objectives,” said Dixon.

“Property lawyers need to get to know their client and get to know their client’s business – such understanding comes from an ability to build rapport with the client and with the client’s external advisers.”

Know and enjoy the industry
Last but certainly not least, is the key to being an excellent property lawyer: love what you do.

“I have a particular interest in shared title developments and the way that lifestyles are adapted as a result of large scale property developments. Central to property transactions are many different forms of contracts. I find contract law and contract negotiation fascinating.”

“I have always been very interested in property and in the property industry. I love the tangibility of property and seeing the different stages of property developments occur and finalise.”

For Dixon, interest in the property industry is a must when practising property law as much of the work involves building relationships with clients and other professionals in the property industry. But ultimately, Dixon’s advice to all property lawyers – those who are in for the long haul as well as those simply giving it a go - is to keep the big picture in focus.

“Know the industry, know the relevant law and know the client’s commercial objectives.”