1. What is Real Estate Practice?
Real estate practice encompasses a broad spectrum of legal issues, including (but not limited to): Land Use/Environmental/Zoning, Transactional (Finance, Purchase/Sale, Leasing), Litigation, Redevelopment Agency Work, Landlord-Tenant, Planned Unit Developments, Affordable Housing, Construction, Taxation, and Bankruptcy. Real estate practice can also be divided between commercial and residential real estate practice.
The recent collapse of the housing bubble has caused a fall off in real estate development, both residential and commercial. This has led to a decline in demand for attorneys specializing in development and transactional work. As expected the need for lawyers who specialize in loan modification and bankruptcy is growing.
2. Where is it practiced?
- Large Law Firms (e.g., Morrison & Foerster)
- Real Estate Boutique Firms (e.g., Miller Starr)
- Small Firms/Solo Practice
- Corporate Legal Departments (“In-House”) (e.g., PG&E, Gap, Safeway, Frys, NRT Inc., Coldwell Banker, Hotels, Banks, etc.)
- Real Estate Developers (e.g., Dividend Homes)
- Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
- Title Insurance Companies (e.g., Chicago Title)
- Government (e.g., Redevelopment Agency, City Attorney, County Counsel)
- Non-Profit Organizations (e.g., Legal Aid, Habitat for Humanity, Low Income Housing Fund)
3. What Courses and Academic Experiences would be helpful?
- Real Estate Finance
- Real Estate Development
- Real Estate Conveyancing
- Land Use
- Administrative Law
- Business Organizations
- Statutory Analysis
- Commercial Real Estate Leasing
- Federal Income Tax
- Federal Taxation of Business Entities
- Civil, Social Justice & High Tech Internship Program
- Environmental Moot Court
- Write a case-note on a real property law issue, and/or write an article and submit it for publication
- Attend conferences and seminars
4. What timeline should I be following?
At the start of the school year, you may want to consider joining associations such as the Real Estate Law Society at SCU and/or the Real Property Sections of the ABA, state and county bar associations. Take the time to attend LCS programs and events sponsored by professional organizations.
Between August and October, research potential employers and conduct information interviews. By November through December, you should meet with LCS to discuss your careers goals and develop a job search strategy.
Students interested in large firms may begin submitting their resumes and cover letters to firms on December 1st. Students interested in government or non-profit work should participate in Public Interest/ Public Sector Day (February). Students interested in boutique or small firm work should research these employers over winter break and submit resumes and cover letters beginning in January. Students considering boutique or small firm work should take note that there is no set recruiting schedule for these employers and that they may not know what their hiring needs will be until late spring be sure to follow-up!
Students can consider participating in a Civil, Social Justice & High Tech Internship over the summer. This is a particularly viable option where the employer is unable to pay you as you can receive academic credit for your work.
Students interested in participating in the On-Campus Interview Program in the fall of their second year might consider taking Advocacy over the summer and register for a lighter load in the Fall Semester. Large law firms traditionally recruit through this program. Keep in mind that corporate legal departments and government legal departments traditionally prefer to hire attorneys with law firm experience.
During this time, students may want to consider writing for the Santa Clara Law Review or another journal on a real property law topic and submitting the article for publication. Students wishing to focus on environmental law may want to consider Environmental Moot Court.
5. What Professional Organizations and Associations can I join to meet people and find out more?
- SCU Real Estate Law Society
- Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law of the American Bar Association www.abanet.org
- Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of California www.calbar.ca.gov
- Real Property Section of the Santa Clara County Bar Association www.sccba.com
Many professional organizations are available on Linkedin:
- The Real Estate Networking Group
- ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
- Corporate Real Estate
6. What additional resources should I check out for further information?
7. Which faculty members at SCU have worked in Real Estate Practice Areas?
- Margalynne Armstrong (Real Property)
- Cynthia Mertens (Real Property)
- Dorothy Glancy (Land Use)
- Ken Manaster (Environmental)