what is a property lawyer?

As a property lawyer, you specialise in various property-related matters, such as selling, leasing, buying, and transferring property. You provide legal advice and represent your clients in property transactions. Your job is to ensure that your client's interests are well represented and that they comply with legal requirements.

Property lawyers also help clients file complaints or cases in court concerning property issues, such as breach of a leasing contract and disputes related to property. You conduct research to determine if your client has a case and prepare documents for litigation. If the defendant is interested in an out-of-court settlement, you negotiate the best terms for your client. Some property disputes end up in court, and it is your job to represent your clients in court.

Aside from handling property litigation, you advise clients on the implications of tax laws and regulations on their properties. For instance, during the purchase or sale of property, you check the implications of capital gains tax, stamp duty, and land rates. During construction, you handle issues that arise due to council regulations, property development, and planning regulations and ensure your client follows the law.

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average property lawyer salary

The typical remuneration package for a property lawyer in Australia is $115,000 per year. However, your salary fluctuates depending on your experience and the size of the company you work for. In an entry-level position, you have minimal experience and handle fewer responsibilities, so you start with a lower salary of approximately $105,000 per year. As you gain experience and improve your knowledge, your remuneration package increases significantly. The most experienced property lawyers take home a salary of $125,000 annually.

what factors affect the salary of a property lawyer?

Your remuneration package depends on your expertise. When you have extensive knowledge of property law, you can advise on complex legal matters. Hence, you receive a higher remuneration package than property lawyers with minimal experience. Your certifications also affect your remuneration. When you have only a Practising Certificate, you earn less than a licensed property lawyer who is a member of the Australian Bar Association.

The size of the company you work for also influences your earnings. Working in a large law firm improves your earning prospects since you handle complex cases and work with major clients. The expertise required to handle the duties and the firm's vast available resources increases your earning prospects.

Want to know what you will earn as a property lawyer? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.


types of property lawyers

Property lawyers deal with various legal matters. However, you have opportunities for specialisation in commercial and residential property law. As a residential property lawyer, you assist clients in buying or selling their homes. You perform due diligence and review the documents related to the transfer of land and purchasing a residence. You also help your clients with lease agreements and easements.

As a commercial property lawyer, you handle legal implications associated with the use of non-residential property for business purposes. You advise clients on legal matters concerning buying or selling commercial properties, licences and leases. If your client wants to develop the property for commercial use, you ensure all building regulations and council laws are adhered to.

smiling male and female colleagues
smiling male and female colleagues

working as a property lawyer

Property lawyers have diverse duties depending on the client's needs. Some typical responsibilities of property lawyers include:

  • representing clients in property transactions: as a property lawyer, you represent your client in property transactions and disputes. For instance, in a property sale, you are in charge of the sale process and ensure the proper transfer of sale documents and titles to a property.
  • drafting and reviewing contracts: as a property lawyer, you draft legal documents associated with property management and ownership. For instance, you draft purchase agreements and financing agreements when buying or selling properties. If your client is leasing property or space in their building, you draft the lease agreements. You also review any contracts before your client signs. Your job is to ensure your client gets the best terms and conditions in agreements and contracts.
  • examining property sale documents: as a property lawyer, you examine property sale documents to ensure they are genuine. You also conduct a title search and advise your client of any restrictions on the land. In Australia, the state land registries provide title details, but they are only accessible through an authorised provider.
  • conducting due diligence: aside from checking for title information, you also conduct due diligence on behalf of your client. You help clients determine if the property meets their expectations and avoid purchasing property with problems. When performing due diligence, you also check for environmental problems, past instances of contamination or proximity to mining areas.
  • assisting in obtaining property financing: as a property lawyer, you identify financing options and help your clients throughout the process. You assist with the documentation for financing and negotiating repayment structures.

education and skills

If you want to become a property lawyer in Australia, start with a Bachelor of Law after obtaining an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of at least 90. Alternatively, undertake a career change through a Juris Doctor postgraduate qualification, which takes two years to complete. After the undergraduate degree, pursue Practical Legal Training (PLT) or a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP).

When you complete PLT, you can apply for admission to your local state bar and get a Practising Certificate. After completing 24 months of supervised practice at a law firm, you should take the bar exams for admission to the bar. Getting a Master of Law specialising in property law also improves your career prospects.

property lawyer skills and competencies

Some of the skills and qualities of property lawyers include:

  • attention to detail: as a property lawyer, you handle sensitive issues and documents associated with property sales and purchases. Paying attention to details when drafting contracts and agreements is crucial. Any simple mistakes or ambiguities open your client to disputes and legal action.
  • communication skills: as a property lawyer, good communication skills are crucial. Your client needs someone who can explain complex property laws in simple terms. Your fluency in conveying legal information in a logical manner is also useful in the courtroom. Aside from oral communication, you require good writing skills to draft contracts and legal documents for your cases.
  • problem-solving skills: problems may arise during property purchases or leases, and it is your job to resolve the disputes. Problem-solving skills help you find creative ways to solve problems during property acquisition and keep both parties happy. You also rely on your problem-solving ability to handle disagreements and negotiate contract disputes.
  • time management skills: as a property lawyer, you represent various clients, and it is important to organise your schedule to ensure you provide the best legal representation. Some property transactions also have tight deadlines, and time management helps you stick to the deadlines.
  • analytical skills: as a property lawyer, you analyse complex legal issues and conduct research to determine the validity of legal disputes. Your investigative and analytical skills help you resolve complex legal problems.

FAQs about working as a property lawyer

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a property lawyer.

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