Getting away from it all is difficult for any busy lawyer. However, for real estate lawyers in
small firms or as sole practitioners, that difficulty is magnified.
Real estate transactions are
contingent on lawyers for the purchaser and the buyer being available when the deal closes.
“The system is designed to
allow clerks, in part, to handle
some of the transactions, but the
system requires the lawyers to be
the gatekeeper. Before closing,
both lawyers have to sign off on
the deal,” said Jeffrey Schwartz a
lawyer with Schwartz & Schwartz
In particular, the use of what
are called electronic keys, which
allow lawyers to securely affix a
digital signature to a contract or
other document, requires them to
be available for closings.
“The use of the system is very
specific. Electronic keys cannot
be given to others,” said
Schwartz, who is chairman of
the real property section of the
Ontario Bar Association.
But nothing says lawyers have
to be sitting at their desks when a
deal is ready to close. “Either I
can’t go away until all my deals
close or I have to make sure there
is Wi-Fi wherever I’m going,”
The latter, he added, is freeing
for lawyers. “The chain to your
desk has been removed. I can
control closing from anywhere.”
Technology is enabling law-
yers to conduct business from
anywhere in the world by
remotely and securely accessing
their office computer.
“I’m using a long arm electron-
ically to control my computer,”
Schwartz said. “I go in and I do
whatever I would do if I was sit-
ting at my desk. I actually did this
from a café in Israel.”
Of course, he said, this works
well only if the deal is closing
without a hitch. “It’s not perfect
if there is a problem with the
file. Then you need help. But if
it’s straightforward, it’s an
Even when no closing is immi-
nent, technology is also necessary
to exit the office.
“Generally, provided I have
Internet and BlackBerry access,
I can manage 10 days without
much trouble, and I don’t mind
the ties because a 30-second
e-mail or text to let the client
know you are aware of a brewing
issue and will attend to it on a
certain date will solve most
problems and settle most worries in the interim,” said Jonathan Reilly, of English Bay Law
Corp. in Vancouver.
But technology has its down-
side for real estate lawyers in
small firms and sole practitioners
trying to get away from it all even
for a few hours.
“Carving out Saturdays, Sundays, and evenings for family is
not possible 100 per cent of the
time, but it is possible to do it
regularly. And guard it jealously,
so that the client matters at those
times are the exceptions rather
than the rule,” he added.
Getting away requires prepar-
ing clients several weeks in
advance, and trying to organize
work around time off, Reilly said.
“Some work can be scheduled
earlier, some later, and some can
be done while on vacation if abso-
The use of the system
is very specific.
Electronic keys cannot
be given to others.
Schwartz & Schwartz
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