The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 1,800 lawyers across the country specialized in real estate in 2008, and the National Association of REALTORS®' 2009 Member Profile reveals that 2 percent of REALTORS® previously worked in the legal arena.
In some states, full-service and discount realty brokerages operated by lawyers with real estate licenses are helping clients navigate the legal issues that accompany a property transaction.
In Seattle, WaLaw Realty, for instance, operates as a brokerage with an affiliated law firm, Blackmon Holmes PLLC, separating the two in order to comply with state regulations. However, some states forbid professionals from serving as both the lawyer and real estate broker for the same deal. WaLaw Realty's law firm handles offers, counteroffers, title reports, disclosure statements, and other aspects of the transaction that could have legal ramifications.
Other brokerages doing something similar might handle short sales, informing clients about deficiencies, tax consequences, and other issues of which they might not be aware.
Lawyers looking to become licensed real estate professionals should be well-versed in state laws governing the licensing process, as some have different requirements for attorneys.