When do you need a lawyer?

I spend an awful lot of time negotiating relatively small/low value agreements with other agents, tenants, owners, etc.

Pretty often, I find myself drafting contract language, because the matter at hand is small enough that its not worth spending thousands of dollars on a lawyer.

That’s obviously ok for my own deals. After all, I trust myself to do a good job and I’m a big boy, so I’m willing to accept the consequences if I screw up.

But, when I’m brokering for someone else, there’s a very fine line I have to walk. I need to be willing to be sufficiently creative to help my client get what s/he wants without getting so far into legal drafting that I’m effectively practicing law without a license.

This is the kind of risk that big brokerages DEFINITELY don’t allow their agents to take. The result? Clients of big brokerages don’t get the benefit of the most creative deal-making, which means that, on the margin, they probably lose out on some opportunities they could have grabbed.

Because I own Adaptive and the buck stops with me, I can make judgment calls (always in consultation with our clients, and with the appropriate disclaimers / disclosures!) about what we can do ourselves and what requires the services of a lawyer. So, on the margins, I like to think that our clients do slightly better in these situations than they would have with someone else.

Again, we’re not talking about high stakes negotiations. But every little bit helps in this business.