Monday, May 08, 2006


I wrote this post a couple weeks ago - don't ask me why I never posted it. You got me.
Anyway . . .

Well the NJ CLE requirements continue. Family Law two weeks ago was informative, if incomplete and the presenters at my particular location were personable and attempted to make the presentation interesting. Real Estate – not so much. The presenter is very knowledgeable, however I don’t think all the nuances of buying and selling property, even from a purely practical standpoint, can be covered in a few hours. Jumping around here and there does not teach me anything. Real estate law, like so many other areas, can only be learned by doing. If a real estate closing could be accomplished by reading a book and listening to a few well placed nuggets of advice then no one would hire an attorney to oversee it. As I sat, sinking further into the quagmire of recording statutes and pursuit of good and marketable title, I realized that these exact issues have been on my mind a lot recently and this course was doing nothing to alleviate my trepidation that buying a house is WAY too complicated.

My brother and his wife are buying their first house, and I was both surprised and flattered that he asked me to do the closing for him. Initially I said I would and went to my Real Estate books for CLE to get the particulars. I also made a couple calls to attorney friends who had done closings. Everyone was very gracious in offering help, however I quickly realized that I was in over my head and had to tell my brother that, in the interest of family harmony and avoiding gross malpractice, I would have to pass since I am still too much of a novice. This made me feel like a complete ass. I called a friend of mine in tears. [Yea, my reaction of embarrassment and frustration manifested in tears – big surprise. We’ve discussed this. Don’t look at me like that!] How could I have gone through the obstacle course of law school and the gauntlet of the bar exam and still not have a clue how to practice law?! There were a ton of forms I would have had to generate and a million I’s to dot and T’s to cross and there was no way I was going to risk ruining this opportunity for my brother and his wife. Too further complicate the situation they want to close in less than 45 days, which I am told by several attorneys, is an insanely short amount of time. There would have been no time for my learning curve. Also, there are a million phone calls to be made in the process, to mortgage lenders, title insurance companies, inter alia. I am currently tempting and am not in a position to make all these calls and facilitate negotiations while I am at work.

Now here is an interesting issue. Apparently there is something called a “Patriot Search” you have to do on your client that runs their name through some super secret government database. If your client is found to be a potential or suspected terrorist then the attorney has to immediately terminate the closing, and [get this!] is forbidden from telling anyone why everything has come to a grinding halt! Now that will endear you to the seller’s attorney, the title insurance company and the real estate agent. In theory this is a good idea. You don’t want some terrorist cell buying the house across the street for some sinister purpose, however consider the possibility of finding your name on one of these secret government lists by accident?! The magic phrase on Mr. McCarthy’s neighborhood today is “conspiracy theory”. Can you say “blacklist” kids? I knew you could!

And since when did attorneys becomes watchdogs for terrorism. Yes, I think we should all do our small part in the vein of patriotism. Suspicious man in the airport asking me to carry his bags for him, yea I’m gonna make a stink about that. A woman packing heat in the subway? Yup, I’m going to find the time to mention that to someone. However being the final drawbridge between a terrorist and his much coveted hideout? Umm, no thanks. How exactly would that go? “I’m sorry we won’t be having a closing on this property for you – ever. Oh you want to know why? Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t give you that information.” Yea, I’m sure it would go so smoothly. And what is to stop these guys from just going and hiring another attorney? Then they do the patriot search, then they suddenly stop everything in its tracks? I’m thinking the jig would be up. And what if I am that second or third attorney these guys have gone to? Lucky me to tell them that, yet again, everything is not going to happen and nope, nope no reason, just not doing it.

Exactly how many attorneys do you think a real, hardened terrorist who has nothing to lose because all he wants is to die a martyr and get it on with 72 virgins is going to go through before he gets all jihad on my esquired ass and I lose more than my license, I lose my head?! Yea, I am exaggerating. Logically it wouldn’t make any sense to go out and get a mortgage and buy real property if you just plan to blow yourself up a week from now. But consider this – do you really think terrorists are logical?


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