September 17, 2020 9:02 am
If you like advising clients, negotiating and being in the cut and thrust of deal making, property law might be an area for you.
A property lawyer facilitates and advises on transactions related to land as well as commercial agreements related to the development of land such as a joint venture agreement between the various parties who wish to develop land together.
No day is the same. In a single day you might be providing GST and stamp duty advice to your developer client, assisting an elderly couple purchase in a retirement village, drafting a restrictive covenant, acting on the sale of airspace rights or acting in a dispute between an individual owner and the owners corporation in a multi-lot subdivision.
Often, the one transaction has many parts to it. Take for example an apartment building with a supermarket and other retail stores on the ground floor (café, florist etc). To act for a developer client in this transaction you will likely have assisted with the purchase and associated pre-purchase due diligence, provided structuring and tax advice to the entity and its various partners. You would have reviewed, negotiated and advised on loan documents. You would have asked your building and construction lawyers to review the contract with the builder. You would also have liaised with the planning team to provide advice on how big the development can be and the types of amenities it requires, then prepared the contract for sale of land to individuals or investors, registered the plan of subdivision, drafted the rules for the Owners Corporation and negotiated an Agreement for Lease and subsequent Lease with the tenants on the ground floor.
In addition to developers, property lawyers also act for investment funds, individuals, farmers, councils, hoteliers and businesses.
The laws surrounding property are always in flux, for example changes to stamp duty, capital gains tax, rules for foreign purchasers and GST. This requires you to be on your toes and constantly advising clients of developments as they arise.
Networking is very important in property law and you will be encouraged to develop relationships with clients and potential referral partners from an early stage. However, networking is no replacement for the core skills of legal excellence and commercial acumen that will keep clients coming back and lead to a very promising career.
Who knows, maybe one day when you take your significant other away for the weekend, it could be to a hotel you helped your client acquire.