What is property law?
Property law, sometimes known as real estate law, deals with transactions related to residential and commercial property and covers specialist areas such as property finance, mortgage lending or social housing.
Personal Property Law
Personal Property Law takes all legal aspects of buying or selling personal or residential property. Property lawyers deal with domestic or international clients who wish to buy or sell property in the UK or abroad.
Commercial Property Law
Commercial Property Law involves dealing with business properties or land that generates profit for the owner. Commercial property lawyers take the centre of all legal aspects of buying and selling commercial properties. Clients can be from all sectors such as farmers, hotel owners and charities.
The main subjects of property law
- Transfer of land
- Ownership of land
- Disputes over land
- Adverse possessions
What does a property lawyer do?
This area of the law mainly involves transactional based work, such as the buying and selling or rental of property, but there is a litigation side. Other related areas of law include landlord and tenant, as well as construction and planning law.
The practice area is split into residential and commercial work. Residential work is likely to take place at high street or regional based firms, and clients are usually the public. This type of work sees lots of client contact over the phone, dealing with developments in their property buying experience. Depending on how many cases are being dealt with, it can be time pressured so lawyers have to keep track of which stage each of their clients are at in their property buying process.
Larger firms are more likely to take work and instructions from commercial clients. This work involves negotiation of land contracts, drafting commercial leases and due diligence. Matters range from large scale developments to small business premises for a sole trader.
Why property law is interesting
Arguably the most relatable for all, the area of property law affects every individual in society whether that be those renting, or those investing in large scale property projects. On some level, most people will be faced with understanding property law at some point in their lives, making this area of law one that interests many.
Skills required to be a property lawyer
Multi-tasking is essential to deal with multiple parties when bringing a transaction together. Negotiation and drafting are also important, especially in commercial property matters.
The speed at which a transaction gets completed can depend on a lawyer’s ability to work with the other parties involved, therefore good relationship building skills are needed. This skill is particularly important in residential conveyancing as clients often become emotional throughout the process. A good manner with clients will be appreciated and may result in increased referrals.
How to become a property lawyer?
To work as a solicitor, you can either take the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), or if you are eligible, you can study the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
If you qualify through the SQE, you will also need to complete two years of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). To prepare for the SQE, we recommend studying one of our SQE courses, which have been designed to give you the knowledge and skills for a successful career as a solicitor.
If you’re eligible to study the LPC, you will need to get a two-year training contract with a law firm. To find out what route is right for you, see our Becoming a Solicitor page.
Once you complete your two-year training contract or QWE, you can apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to be admitted as a solicitor.
To become a barrister, you will need to have completed an undergraduate law degree, or if you are a non-law graduate, a conversion course, before completing the Bar Practice Course (BPC). You will then need to secure pupillage.
Work experience in the area is as important as qualifying as a solicitor so gaining as much residential and commercial experience as possible will help. This doesn’t need to be legal based. Many people come from the housing and care industry to become a property lawyer. You will also need to follow all the steps to becoming a qualified solicitor.
How much does a property lawyer earn?
A newly qualified residential property solicitor in a firm outside of the city or smaller practice may expect to earn around £20,000 to £40,000, a commercial property lawyer can expect to earn more. An average property solicitor salary in London is anything from £30,000 to £80,000 based on five years’ experience according to Reed.co.uk. For those with over ten years' experience, earnings can range from £60,000 to £80,000. Those based in London and bigger cities will often earn more too.
Gaining property law work experience
These days, gaining experience in property law is possible via virtual work experience, online vacation schemes, and long-term internships. Our employability services can help you find working experience during your studies, holidays or after graduation.
Chambers and Partners Student Guide
The Law Society – Information about practice issues in this website’s property section.
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