Real Estate Law Career Guide

By Fred DingledyPicture of real estate photo by Associated Press
Updated February 2022

Books & Narratives

From Handshake to Closing: The Role of the Commercial Real Estate Lawyer, 2nd ed., by Sidney G. Saltz, Chicago: American Bar Association, 2010.
Intended as a mentoring guide for new lawyers, this book explains the attorney's role in the real estate transaction.
KF665 .F76 2010

How to Build a Real Estate Law Practice, by Dean N. Alterman, Chicago: American Bar Association, 2015.
Offers practice and business management pointers for attorneys who want to engage in real estate law.
KF299 .R43 A44 2015

Guides & Directories

Chambers USA, Chambers and Partners, Annual.
A selective nationwide directory of US lawyers and law firms. Can also search within states for firms practicing real estate law.
Career Center KF190 .C43 2015

Findlaw Lawyer Directory.

Can search for lawyers listing real estate as a practice. Has page that lets you browse for real estate attorneys by location.
Can search for lawyers listing real estate as a practice. Has page that lets you browse for real estate firms by location.

Databases & Websites

WESTLAW: The Legal Practice Database
This database contains articles from law reviews, professional publications, and more that focus on the practical aspects of attorneys in all types of practices.

WESTLAW: West Legal Directory -- Real Estate
Contains profiles of attorneys and firms practicing real estate law in the US and Canada.

Chambers Associate
Website affiliated with the Chambers USA directory. Easier to search for firms nationwide by practice area. Includes articles describing what work in different practice areas is like, alternative careers. Includes helpful tips for job seekers as well. Career Center
A website belonging to the publishers behind American Lawyer, focuses on commercial real estate. The site's Career Center contains job and internship listings, as well as articles and advice for people seeking jobs in real estate.

Journal and Website Articles

"Alternative Careers", 25(5) Probate & Property 8 (Sept.-Oct. 2011).
Describes several possible alternative career options for attorneys interested in real estate.

Chambers Associate, "Real Estate".
Summarizes what real estate law covers, what the major issues are in real estate law today, and what real estate attorneys typically do. Has quotes from real estate practitioners about what the work life is like and the types of skills a real estate attorney needs.

"Consider this event a down payment on your real estate career", Before the Bar (Aug. 24, 2016).
Video of event (just under 40 minutes) at which speakers described how they became commercial real estate attorneys, the skills someone needs to enter the field, what the work is like, and the field's advantages and disadvantages.

"Exclusive Interview with Robert Voit", (June 28, 2012).
Interview with California-based Voit Real Estate Services, who offers suggestions on how to run a successful commercial real estate firm and advice to someone new to the field. Available on Lexis.

"Q&A: Laurence Midler", The Recorder (California) (June 11, 2009).
Interview with the Executive VP and General Counsel for CB Richard Ellis, a Los Angeles-based worldwide real estate services country. Ellis describes his work environment and the types of work his office is involved with. Available on Lexis.

Schwartzberg, Julie, "10 Things to Know about Real Estate Practice", Above the Law (Nov. 22, 2016).
Author, a former Greenberg Traurig shareholder who now works for Practical Law, describes the type of work a real estate attorney may typically encounter, as well as possible career paths and the kind of work life a practitioner in the field can expect.

"ZipRealty GC Samantha Harnett is Co-opting the Competition", Corporate Counsel (Feb. 23, 2012).
Interview with Samantha Harnett, General Counsel for online real estate brokerage ZipRealty. Harnett describes the path that led her to her current position, as well as the workplace and workload. Available on Lexis.


Probate & Property
Library has vol. 1 (1987) - present.
Chicago: American Bar Association, Section of Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law.


The following organizations are active or maintain an interest in real estate law. They can offer membership opportunities, information on the industry, and possible employment opportunities. Most of them sponsor seminars or conferences on relevant topics.

American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
Provides a number of resources for those considering real estate law in addition to membership benefits.

American College of Real Estate Lawyers
11300 Rockville Pike, Ste. 903
Rockville, MD 20852
phone: (301)-816-9811
Invitation-only organization of real estate lawyers. Website includes ACREL's newsletter, links to useful online real estate resources, and member roster.

Virginia State Bar Real Property Section
1111 East Main Street, Suite 700
Richmond, Virginia 23219-3565
phone: (804)-775-0500
This section of the Virginia State Bar sponsors projects and programs of interest to real estate practitioners, and publishes the semi-annual newsletter The Fee Simple (membership required to access).

Photo: Associated Press