Month: September 2020

Can a Real Estate Attorney Represent Both Buyer and Seller?

What happens when both the buyer and the seller of a real estate transaction approach the same lawyer? Can a real estate attorney represent both parties? The answer is a little more nuanced than a “yes” or a “no.”

Attorneys have responsibilities to their clients both present and former. In handling a legal matter, they have to identify any conflicts of interest so they can best advocate for their clients. These conflicts include identifying the attorney’s potential personal interests and any conflicts among the clients involved. When it comes to real estate transactions, attorneys have to keep information about the case confidential and representing both buyer and seller in a transaction can divide the attorney’s loyalty, and inhibit their ability to serve their clients well.

Considering the relationship between clients and lawyers ensures that lawyers follow rules and ethics standards set forth by the American Bar Association and the State Bar.

In the event that an attorney is retained by multiple parties in a related case, such as a real estate transaction, a conflict waiver may apply.

Conflict Waivers

Rule 3-310 of the California Rules of Professional Responsibility addresses joint representation in transactions. The San Diego County Bar Association is helpful in this matter (emphases added):

“[An attorney] shall not, without the informed written consent of each client:  (1) Accept representation of more than one client in a matter in which the interests of the clients potentially conflict; or (2) Accept or continue representation of more than one client in a matter in which the interests of the clients actually conflict; or (3) Represent a client in a matter and at the same time in a separate matter accept as a client a person or entity whose interest in the first matter is adverse to the client in the first matter.”

There are some obvious cases in which the attorney cannot represent both parties, such as the defendant and prosecutor. In real estate transactions, if an attorney is retained by both buyer and seller, the ABA gives this specific example:

“Directly adverse conflicts can also arise in transactional matters. For example, if a lawyer is asked to represent the seller of a business in negotiations with a buyer represented by the lawyer, not in the same transaction but in another, unrelated matter, the lawyer could not undertake the representation without the informed consent of each client.”

This “informed consent of each client” is the conflict waiver. Before obtaining a waiver, the attorney must identify all possible conflicts in a case and if the case cannot be waived, a waiver should not be pursued. Instead, the attorney should decline representation given the conflicts. With real estate transactions, an attorney would ideally represent only the buyer or seller unless it’s under certain (but exceptional) circumstances such as clients being in the same family.

Helping You With Your Real Estate Needs

Our real estate attorneys at Hoffman & Forde are here to determine the best options for your real estate transaction. Whether you’re the seller or buyer, we work with 0ur clients to ensure their rights are protected and that their transactions go smoothly. Our boutique law firm gives you access to a wide array of legal specialties, so that all aspects of your case or transaction are covered. If you need legal counsel for residential or commercial real estate matters, schedule a consultation with Hoffman & Forde today.

USCIS Increases Fees in 2020

The USCIS is fee funded unlike other government agencies. After their biennial fee review, the agency is adjusting their fees “to help meet operational needs.” People seeking naturalization as US citizens, or those who wish to travel and work here can expect an increase in their fees. The Department of Homeland security announced that this increase will be effective starting October 2. This final rule increases fees by a weighted average of 20% and it affects a few things:

  • Removal of certain fee exemptions
  • Changes in fee waiver requirements
  • Premium processing time limits
  • New fees for certain immigration benefit requests
  • Establishing multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions
  • Limiting the number of beneficiaries for certain forms 


Additionally, the USCIS notes that “[a]ny application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must include payment of the new, correct fees established by this final rule.” The final rule also increases fees for employment-based nonimmigrant visa applications; however, fees for employment-based visas will decrease from $700 to $555. Most fee waivers are also eliminated for low-income immigrants who qualify.

While the changes eliminate most fee waivers, it adds a new asylum application fee, and requires separate fees for adjustment applications. The rise in fees is on par with the agency’s last adjustment, but the 20% bump is still significant.

How Our Immigration Lawyers Assist Clients

No matter your status or goals for immigration, our immigration attorneys at Hoffman & Forde can assist you with a variety of legal services. Hoffman & Forde represents individuals, businesses, and even corporations for various immigration cases. Our attorneys can assist clients with the following:

  • Permanent residency
  • Employment-based visas
  • National citizenship
  • Deportation defense
  • Citizenship applications
  • Employment-based visas
  • Investor-based visas
  • Family green card petitions
  • Green cards through marriage 
  • Waivers
  • Consular processing

The immigration process can be complex. There are many moving parts but our experienced attorneys ensure that you have quality representation throughout the process. We work closely with our clients to provide thorough case assessments and present the best proposals for your legal status.

Your Southern California Immigration Attorneys

Hoffman & Forde is here to help you achieve the American Dream. If you are undocumented in this country, remember that you still have rights and we’re here to defend them. We help clients in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties to stay on track of crucial information and deadlines, as well as assist with completing and submitting all the necessary paperwork. As our client, you can with first-class legal service, high-level attention, and a sophisticated approach to problem-solving that utilizes time-sensitive, practical legal advice.

If you need legal assistance with your immigration process, please contact us today for a consultation.