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Illinois: Real Estate Lawyers

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What Is Real Estate Law?

Real estate law is a broad category of legal practice that usually covers cases concerning property, land, rental units and accommodations, zoning laws and requirements and many other facets of the real estate industry.

Real estate law, or property law, generally refers to the laws surrounding the ownership or use of land in the United States. Real estate law is a branch of civil law that covers the right to possess, use and enjoy land and the attached permanent human-made additions. Real estate law impacts most of us on a daily basis, affecting everyone from homeowners to renters, landlords, home buyers and home sellers.

In the United States, every state has exclusive jurisdiction over the land within its borders. Each state has the power to determine the form and effect of a transfer of real property in its jurisdiction. As a result, state law requirements vary significantly from state to state.

What Are Types of Real Estate Cases?

There are several types of cases that might require a real estate lawyer.

  • Landlord/tenant disputes: Millions of people in the United States rent property, but rentals sometimes come with certain problems such as arguments between landlords and tenants. A real estate lawyer can help landlords in collecting overdue or otherwise legally owed rent or work with courts to help ensure that tenants are abiding by the terms of an established, co-signed rental agreement. Real estate lawyers may also be called upon to protect tenants who argue that they are being mistreated, abused or taken advantage of by their landlords. Real estate lawyers might also handle illegal rent increases, unsafe or unhealthy sanitary conditions in an apartment unit and other concerns.
  • Closing on property/buying property: While it is always an option to consult with a real estate attorney when closing on a property, several states (including Connecticut, Delaware, George, Massachusetts, North and South Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia) are commonly known as "attorney closing states" which require credentialed attorneys to supervise the sale of the home and to be present at closing. Meanwhile, other states (namely Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming) are known as "attorney title opinion states." In these listed jurisdictions, a real estate lawyer is required to sign off on a property title in order to certify it.
  • Foreclosure: Foreclosures can be a real legal challenge, with a great deal of jargon and written documentation or correspondence coming into play. Most often, individuals facing foreclosure hire real estate lawyers specializing in such matters in order to give them the best possible chance of retaining their home or other property.
  • Estate planning: Real estate lawyers can be helpful in not only establishing all of the legal framework such as documentation and wills relating to the creation of a solid estate, but also in terms of making sure that the disbursal of the estate goes smoothly when the time comes.

Other situations in which a real estate lawyer could prove useful might involving attempting a change of zoning for a property you hold, dealing with title or surveyor disputes as to the actual dimensions of a plot of land, or similar.

Do You Need a Lawyer in Illinois?

Anyone who is aiming to file a lawsuit or who must defend themselves against a lawsuit (civil) or criminal allegations should find an Illinois lawyer who has experience in the type of case they’re facing. Whether you reside in Illinois or any other state, the rule of law (and the complexity thereof) makes it preferable in most situations to have an attorney to represent your interests in civil or criminal court rather than representing yourself.

Defendants in the Illinois court system — or those facing federal charges for felonies, particularly — will most likely see better results with proper legal counsel. Criminal convictions can result in lengthy jail or prison sentences, as well as the creation of a permanent criminal record for first-time offenders. A skilled lawyer can help you craft the best defense possible, improving your chances of acquittal — and if the prosecution is willing to negotiate rather than go to trial, an attorney can help you get the best deal possible.

If you are seeking restitution, you should consider consulting a lawyer for both civil and criminal court. Whether the defendant is the state or an individual, attorneys working as prosecutors can use a body of provided evidence such as physical evidence, eyewitness accounts, digital communications or surveillance, to create a compelling argument in your favor

In almost all instances, representing yourself in a court of law is not recommended, particularly if the consequences of a conviction (or a failure to successfully prosecute) are significant. Attorneys are often called upon to act as experts, and their expertise can often be invaluable.

How to Find a Lawyer in Illinois

To find an Illinois lawyer, you will want to consider both budget and reputation. It is important to find a lawyer that is within your financial reach but also has strong legal experience and a track record of established success.

Extensive research is also important when selecting a lawyer to represent your best interests. You can check the Illinois State Bar Association to research potential candidates.

Before hiring a lawyer, it’s important to cross-reference results in web searches, to ensure consistent and reliable information. Including checking through prominent cases, social media profiles, local or state media coverage and going directly to the attorney or firm’s website.

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost in Illinois?

In Illinois, a general estimate of the per-hour cost for a lawyer can range from about $130 to $400 per hour, depending on location, expertise and the complexity of the case in question.

In some cases, attorneys may opt to offer clients a flat-rate fee instead of a per-hour fee. This typically arises in criminal defense law as well as certain divorce court proceedings. A fee for a misdemeanor defense is usually far less than the flat fee for a felony defense. Representation on issues related to juvenile offenses and traffic offenses may cost you less than the representation on situations involving corporate law or bankruptcies.

Finally, certain lawyers, such as personal injury lawyers, typically offer clients representation based on contingency. If you win a settlement from such a case, such as slipping and falling at a business establishment and incurring a serious injury, your personal injury lawyer will retain a percentage of your total settlement, rather than charging you any per-hour or flat-rate fees.

If you cannot afford representation in a legal matter, legal aid may be an option to consider.

What Types of Cases Can an Illinois Lawyer Help With?

While an Illinois lawyer can take on cases of any sort, the most common criminal cases in Illinois involve simple assault or aggravated assault, sexual assault, violations of the Controlled Substances Act, burglary (business and residential), driving while under the influence (DUI) and severe violent crime such as homicide and armed robbery.

Illinois lawyers are also typically called upon to represent parties in marital disputes leading to divorce or separation, the custody battles common to such cases, and other civil proceedings.

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