Real Estate Lawyers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A high school diploma, a college degree, and three years of law school are minimum requirements for a law degree. A high school diploma is a first step on the ladder of education that a lawyer must climb. If you are considering a career in law, courses such as business, government, history, social studies, and economics provide a solid background for entering college-level courses. Speech courses are also helpful to build strong communication skills necessary for the profession. Take as many writing classes as possible during high school to strengthen your writing skills. Lawyers spend a tremendous amount of time writing briefs, contracts, and depositions for their cases. Also take advantage of any computer-related classes or experience you can get, because lawyers often use technology to research and interpret the law, from surfing the Internet to searching legal databases.

Postsecondary Education

To enter a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), you must satisfactorily complete at least three, and usually four, years of college work. Most law schools do not specify any particular courses for pre-law education. Usually a liberal arts track is most advisable, with courses in English, history, economics, social sciences, logic, and public speaking. A college student planning to specialize in real estate law might also take courses significantly related to this area, such as business or economics. Those interested should contact several law schools to learn more about any special requirements and to see if they will accept credits from the college the student is planning to attend. It would also be wise to investigate the school’s real estate law program.

Most law schools require that applicants take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), where prospective law students are tested on their critical thinking, writing, and reasoning abilities.

Currently, 203 law schools in the United States are approved by the ABA; others, many of them night schools, are approved by state authorities only. Most of the approved law schools, however, do have night sessions to accommodate part-time students. Part-time courses of study usually take four years. The ABA currently does not accredit online law education programs.

Law school training in real estate consists of required courses such as legal writing and research, commercial real estate finance, public housing redevelopment, real estate investment and transactions, and real estate structuring. A degree of juris doctor (J.D.) or bachelor of laws (LL.B.) is usually granted upon graduation.


Some lawyers choose to earn a master of laws (LL.M) degree, an advanced law certification that helps them advance professionally. LL.M programs, which typically last one year, are offered in many areas—such as general law, litigation/trial advocacy, and real estate/land development. A first law degree is required for admission to LL.M programs. Visit https://www.lsac.org/llm-other-law-program-applicants for more information. Visit https://www.lsac.org/choosing-law-school/find-law-school/llm-masters-and-certificate-programs for a list of LL.M specialties and the law schools that offer them.

Other Education or Training

The American Bar Association, National Association for Law Placement, and state and local bar associations offer a variety of continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information. Additionally, most law firms provide in-house continuing education opportunities to their employees. Some even offer mentorship programs that pair new lawyers with experienced lawyers to help them prepare for the field.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification offers voluntary board certification in civil pretrial practice, civil law, and other areas. Contact the board for more information.

Every state requires that lawyers be admitted to the bar of that state before they can practice. They require that applicants graduate from an approved law school and that they pass a written examination in the state in which they intend to practice. In a few states, graduates of law schools within the state are excused from these written examinations. After lawyers have been admitted to the bar in one state, they can practice in another state without taking a written examination if the states have reciprocity agreements; however, they will be required to meet certain state standards of good character and legal experience and pay any applicable fees.

Many lawyers who specialize in real estate law also carry a brokers’ license. A real estate broker acts as an agent for others in buying or selling property. Licensure is obtained after sufficient course work and the successful completion of an examination. Check with your state for specific licensure requirements as they may differ from state to state.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Experience as a real estate law intern is highly recommended. 

Lawyers must be effective communicators, work well with people, and be able to find creative solutions to problems, such as complex court cases or real estate issues. They should also have strong ethics. Cases are often complex, and a lawyer might be tempted to cut corners or not act in an ethical way in order to earn more money or speed up legal proceedings. Other important traits include strong research skills, the ability to direct the work of others, and excellent time-management skills.