A collaboration opportunity
Dickinson County realtor, Katie Cascioli, and I get together for dinner every few months. Since the beginning of time, she’s been my cousin-from-another-grandma. Our dads were besties, and we grew up together. As adults, we are friends and colleagues. We talk about everything from business to philosophy. No matter where the conversation goes, we end up focusing on the human beings at the center. Together, we wondered what could be tweaked about the systems we work in to give people a better experience than we’ve experienced ourselves. Or, how could we get in front of a problem so that the current systems don’t hurt the people we work with?
We go to the same place: Education. Having multiple conversations around the intersections of our professions prompted us to schedule a time to collaborate with Katie’s team for an educational session.
Gamifying the continuing education
Last week, Katie and six coworkers from Stephens Real Estate joined me for a workshop, which involved a gamified “U.P. Fairytale.” The team worked together to mentor a young realtor, Robin, who is working with Sam Scott to sell his family camp.
Together, the team followed the twists and turns that realtors often encounter when helping a client sell land without the right easements. We identified and worked with special focus on barriers beyond their control that cause friction or uncertainty with their clients. A perfect example of this type of barrier is the lack of attorneys available to help realtors and their clients move a transaction forward. Here is how it came up:
Me: Land that does not have access does not have marketable title. This is a title defect. Most purchase agreements give sellers 30-60 days to correct defect in title. Right?
Team: [nods in affirmation]
Me: Tell me then, how long does it take for your clients to find a lawyer?
Me. “One month?
Team: More silence.
“Two months?” I prompted. Still quiet.
I see a nod. Then everyone started nodding!
One realtor spoke up, “Most clients who want or need to talk to a lawyer can’t find help fast enough.”
Realty companies like Stephens are longing to provide a human-centered service, but they lack tools to eliminate legal uncertainty for their clients when a legal issue arises. Here’s a breakdown of the experience realtors are dealing with on the ground:
- Realtors can’t give legal advice themselves. Most are sensitive to the realities of claims against those in the realty profession for the unauthorized practice of law.
- The pace of the legal economy has nearly eliminated traditional legal services available to serve a client’s needs in a real estate transaction.
- People with unmet needs are going to have a more unpleasant experience. Legal needs affect financial needs. Money is how we meet our basic needs. Closing this gap of legal needs should improve the experience a client has selling their home, but it should also improve the realtors’ experience and wellness.
- When a person has an unmet need through a transactional process, it is very hard to build trust with them.
How can we help realtors provide better services by helping them help their clients meet their needs? The statistic that has driven my work to this point is that more than 80 percent of people with a legal need are simply not getting legal services and many are choosing not to seek legal services (Legal Services Corporation). Most of the people working with these realtors fall within this 80 percent!
Rest assured, there are alternatives for realtors and other professionals running into a legal-services shortage:
- Coaching and Make-it-Legal services with Taproot Law. Coaching was designed to give people an opportunity to talk to a lawyer to move themselves forward. Because of the slick process and short meetings, I’m able to hold a coaching meeting within a week of applying for services. Clients also have access to our Make-it-Legal services, which is a document drafting and instructions service.
- Legal Help. Michigan Legal Help is a powerful tool that I use frequently to get the basic “how-to” on many legal issues. This organization provides easy-to-understand language and now some graphics. They also have a document creation tool that works, but a heads up that the tool can feel clunky to use and the instructions are a bit difficult to follow.
- Pre-made forms and worksheets. “Law” is an umbrella system of the subsets we each work within, and each of us is exercising a specialized area of the law. What is or is not the unauthorized practice of law can get cloudy and can immobilize the professional from giving good advice. Helping realtors navigate through this cloudy area to create effective forms is something I can offer coaching on! Pre-made forms make sure all professionals are on the same page and have the same talking points when discussing a legal issue. For repeat legal problems and questions, a realty company may consider creating their own forms with the assistance of a lawyer to confirm completeness or that the proper disclaimers are added. The entire company can then use the same advice that has been approved by counsel, and gives some protection against the unauthorized practice of law. In 2024, Taproot is releasing a subscription service of the graphics we are creating that can be used by other professionals as talking points with your clients.
Ultimately, Taproot Law and Stephens Real Estate came together to build bridges between the legal and real estate professions and create opportunities to move clients forward and a step closer to their U.P. Fairytale.
(Photo credit: Stephens Real Estate)
Want to work with Taproot?
After the workshop, Katie reflected on her experience:
“It was helpful to see that it is not as cut and dry as “contact your attorney.” There are more steps that should be considered and possibly better routes to explore before that step.”
Taproot is committed to working with other professionals and the community to build bridges across disciplines and help each other figure out the right steps together. If your professional team is interested in collaborating with Taproot Law, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 906-284-8426, or visit taprootadvocates.com for more information.
Speaking of collaborations, we’re hosting a community workshop on November 18! Join me to share your ideas and questions about preparing for the death of a loved one at the Peter White Library in Marquette, MI. Details about the event can be found on our facebook page!