Part of your expertise and value to your client is your network of vendors.
While some clients will have an attorney that they want to work with, most clients will ask you for a recommendation. As a real estate professional, part of your time should be spent developing a network of vendors to work with and that you trust enough to recommend. Your reputation is on the line.
It is really helpful when the real estate agent and the closing attorney work well together and share information to protect the client's interest which ultimately will lead to completing the transaction. Once you have completed a few transactions, you will get a sense of what you like and dislike in dealing with an attorney.
So what to look for in a closing attorney?
If you have trouble getting an appointment or a phone call with the attorney, imagine how hard it will be for your client to get some attention. However, be reasonable. Attorneys and real estate agents work differently. Agents are able to answer their phones and emails quickly as sales professionals. That's what they do. Attorneys, on the other hand, have a variety of tasks in their daily schedules that keep them from immediately responding. They may be in court, handling another transaction or a myriad of other issues that would keep them from an immediate response.
There are some attorneys who specialize in real estate transactions. The majority of attorneys who handle real estate, however, offer a number of other services. It will take some work on the part of the Agent, but make the investment of time to interview the attorney before blindly referring clients. It can be as informal as a phone call or as detailed as a scheduled appointment. Get to know their level of experience by asking some tough questions based on scenarios that you've personally experienced or are aware of.
Know their staff
Some great attorneys have staff that are not approachable and frankly not very nice. Get an understanding of who will handle the majority of the transaction's details. Will the secretary or paralegal do most of the client interaction or will the attorney? If the staff handle most of the transactions, interview the staff or at least get an understanding of how easy they are to deal with and whether you want to stake your reputation on how well they will treat your client.
Know the fee structure
Most attorneys will charge a flat rate for a closing that may differ based on whether they represent the buyer or the seller. Some attorneys will also have additional fees that you should be aware of so that your clients are not surprised. Will the attorney's flat rate cover all aspects of the closing or are there separate fees for title review, attorney review, inspection negotiation and mortgage closing? Are there additional document handling, recording or miscellaneous fees? It is important to know exactly what fees are charged.
Know their office
Is it convenient for closing? Is there a conference room to comfortably seat all participants to the transaction. Is there enough parking?
Most attorneys will appreciate the opportunity to earn your business. You can be a lead generator for them and they should absolutely treat you as such with kindness and where possible reciprocate leads.