Law Students

February, 2007

Your Future As An Estate Planning or Real Estate Attorney
by Anthony Marinaccio

Many law students are put off by the idea of being an estate planning lawyer for many reasons. The first is that, compared with many areas of law, it seems the least glamorous and most mundane. However, the truth may be far from the myth.


Recently in the news the death of legendary singer James Brown has reminded us that estate planning is a current and interesting topic. Actually, when anyone famous or rich dies, the estate planning issues are what grabs the media’s attention.


In the last five years, Americans have seen unprecedented growth in the real estate market and appreciation rates that are unheard of. Accordingly, interest in real estate law has grown along with any career related to real estate. Real estate is a very broad and expansive topic unlike many other areas of business or corporate law, so there is always some confusion as to what exactly a real estate attorney does. In Martindale-Hubbell’s online database, there are 6,172 attorneys who practice “real estate law” – which does not include other areas of law closely related to real estate law such as construction and general business law.


Why is real estate law so common and attractive to many young lawyers? Like estate planning, it is an area of law that nearly every American will encounter sometime in his or her own life. Everyone needs a place to live and a place to work, all of which involve real estate of some type.


What are some great ways to get introduced into real estate law or estate planning? First, the ABA offers many opportunities for law students and young attorneys to get their feet wet in a practice area. Joining a section or division can be the first step. For a student, joining a division or section is a great deal compared to what one gets over the year for the nominal annual charge. The Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section has a number of opportunities for interested law students.


Not only is the ABA a helpful and informative source of information, local and state bar associations can help as well. Many have chapters in specific areas of law that have separate meetings that can be both informative and helpful. Not only those things, but they are great networking opportunities because a student will be able to meet many lawyers who practice in that field.


Law school itself can also be a great way to find out a little about estate planning or real estate law. Every law student had to take property in his or her first year of law school which is a very broad overview of property law; however, in many circumstances, the actual practice of real estate law is unlike a property class.


In addition, tax classes are helpful for those looking to start in estate planning. Much of estate planning is finding ways to avoid taxes on any level. In addition, for every act in estate planning there are tax consequences that may not be evident at first glance. Knowing a little tax goes a long way here.


Consequently, starting a career in real estate, probate or trust law is not difficult, but does take some effort on your part.