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Choosing the best eminent domain lawyer is a matter of understanding your own circumstances, then finding a lawyer whose expertise aligns with the specific issues you are facing. Finding lawyers who practice eminent domain law is not usually difficult. Determining which is best for you is usually the harder inquiry. With a bit of research, asking around, and interviewing, however, you will be able to identify the lawyer that will best be able to represent you.
The most important thing about choosing an eminent domain lawyer is location. Eminent domain is a facet of United States federal law, which means that it applies throughout the country. Nevertheless, each individual state also has its own eminent domain rules, which means that acceptable eminent domain practices can and do vary significantly from place to place. In order to get the best outcome, your attorney needs to be very experienced in the eminent domain laws of your state.
You also need to be sure that your eminent domain lawyer is experienced in the sort of eminent domain action you are facing. Eminent domain actions can be brought in a variety of situations. Sometimes, governments seek to own vacant land and undeveloped lots. Other times, the target is a business park or office building, or even a family home. The government usually has the right to convert almost any property into state-owned lands.
It is not usually possible to overcome a government’s claim of eminent domain. Eminent domain laws give governments the right to seize almost any property, provided they follow certain conditions and offer adequate buy-out amounts. The role of the eminent domain lawyer is to hold the government in check and to ensure that you as the property owner get a fair settlement. To do this effectively, the lawyer must know the legal terrain and must have experience negotiating with the government.
You should begin looking for an eminent domain lawyer shortly after you receive an eminent domain notification. If you know anyone who has faced a similar action, ask for recommendations. You should keep in mind, though, that not all results are uniform — a great settlement in one case does not necessarily guarantee a similar result for you.
It is often possible to find a law firm that deals exclusively with eminent domain, but these kinds of firms do not exist in all communities. You may have to look for broader property law firms first, then inquire about which of their attorneys has experience in eminent domain law. Relevant firms can often be identified by doing an online search or contacting your state’s bar association. Try to schedule an informational interview where you can meet with lawyers, explain your case, and ask about their experience handling either corporate or residential property sales to the government.
Depending on your socioeconomic situation, a legal aid clinic may also be able to help you find representation. Legal aid clinics often help defend low income families from government-initiated property condemnation and other claims on private property rights. Even if a clinic does not have an eminent domain lawyer on staff, it may be able to provide referrals.
Sometimes, eminent domain actions are taken against entire communities at once. If this is the case in your situation, it may make sense for you and your neighbors to seek joint representation from the same eminent domain lawyer. This ensures consistent results, and can also give the lawyer more strength and backing in the settlement.
@Soulfox -- not necessarily. A good property lawyer ought to have some skills in eminent domain. Good lawyers are very sensitive to the demands of the market and will develop the skills to meet the demand for services. If eminent domain lawyers are needed, you'd better believe you will find some have become skilled in that area.
The problem with finding a law firm specializing in eminent domain is that those tend to be found in larger areas. Eminent domain issues are quite common in smaller, developing areas -- not the types of places you'd find such specialized firms.
In those developing areas, local governments tend to exercise the power of eminent domain frequently as they add infrastructure and other things necessary for growth. Finding a skilled, eminent domain attorney in one of those areas can be difficult.
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