Well that’s an interesting question. I think most attorneys get out of law school and they just kind of assume they’re going to be in a courtroom. That’s what you think of. At least when I went to law school, that’s what we all thought of. And I came out of law school and joined a very large law firm, Holland and Knight. And they interestingly at the time had a system where new lawyers would rotate into three different areas of the practice: You’d spend a year in corporate, a year in real estate, and a year in litigation.
And I started off in litigation so I was happy with that because I assumed that’s what I would do and what I wanted to do. And it was OK, I liked being in the courtroom, but I quickly found out that litigation in this day and age is mostly about depositions and pretrial and hearings and your actual time in the courtroom is pretty scarce, particularly as a young lawyer. And so I wasn’t entirely thrilled with that. And then I went into corporate and tax and probate and that kind of thing and I liked that. Did that for a year or so and thought this was interesting to me. And then I rotated into real estate which was the one area I thought I’d never want to practice in. It sounded kind of boring and unexciting and once I got into it I found that I really liked it. And I guess it’s partly because that was where I had ended up in my rotation and at about that time is when I left and started my own law firm and so…
I then had the opportunity for a short period of time to practice in virtually every area of the law. You know, when you’re a young lawyer and starting your own law firm you take anything that comes in the door. So I was doing domestic and tax and probate and wills and real estate (you name it), litigation…
But I always found that the real estate cases were more interesting to me.
And I think there’s 2 reasons for that: One is it’s like a puzzle. Most real estate deals that you’re involved with are putting together a lot of pieces of a big picture and bringing them all together and I enjoy that aspect of it. And the other is It usually involves developing or building something.
I mean sometimes if you buy an existing apartment complex or office building or something it’s already there but… But even then you’re creating a new entity, a new investment for somebody. And on the true development side of real estate you start with raw dirt and you end up with a beautiful shopping center or apartment complex or office building. And to just be instrumental in bringing that kind of progress to fruition is something I found that I really, really enjoy.
And so, as time went on, and as you become more sophisticated in your practice, to have the kinds of clients that you want, you kind of have to begin to become an expert in something and I found that that just came very naturally for me. And that for whatever reason a lot of my business and clients that were coming in had real estate transactions.
So I just undertook to really learn that and make that my area of expertise and as a result that’s really what I’ve ended up doing. Now one of the advantages of doing it the way I did it, though, is, because I was a solo practitioner for a while and because of Holland & Knight’s rotation that they did early on in my career, I was able to have a pretty good exposure to virtually every area of the law.
…[T]he more you understand about all these other areas of the law, the better of a real estate lawyer you are.
So a real estate lawyer will often encounter other areas of the law. Like you may be doing a transaction where somebody’s buying or selling property out of a probate, so you need to understand probate. Or coming out of bankruptcy, so you need to understand a little bankruptcy. Or you may be helping someone who’s had some property that at some point in the past came out of a dissolution of marriage. And so the more you understand about all these other areas of the law, the better of a real estate lawyer you are. And if you understand litigation, you’re better off too because if you have a real estate deal that starts to fall apart and the parties are threatening each other with litigation you’re qualified to say, “Well this is what will happen if you go into litigation.”
But real estate came naturally to me. I liked it. I think it was a good decision. And I’ve enjoyed practicing as a real estate lawyer.
– Rulon D. Munns is an experienced real estate attorney and managing shareholder of Bogin, Munns & Munns, a full service law firm with offices in Orlando, Clermont, Kissimmee, Orange City, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Melbourne, Gainesville, and Leesburg, Florida. He welcomes questions and comments regarding the above and can be reached at [email protected]
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