By Bill Johnston

I have been a lawyer and a Realtor for more than 30 years. It is readily apparent that both of these professions share the same challenges today. A few years ago, Gail Cohen, who at the time was editor of Canadian Lawyer magazine, wrote a column outlining the key issues facing the legal community.

Here are the points she made:

  1. It is a time of upheaval.
  2. What worked in the past cannot be relied upon to work in the future (which is tough to swallow for those addicted to tradition).
  3. Lawyers do not embrace change.
  4. Global firms are coming to Canada and are absorbing some of Canada’s oldest and most esteemed firms.
  5. Technology is levelling the playing field for smaller firms, many of which are using technology in innovative ways.
  6. There is a large group of aging lawyers, with a huge number of young lawyers getting called to the bar.
  7. In order to survive, lawyers are offering alternative fee arrangements, often motivated by client push-back against traditional fee arrangements. In fact, some firms are offering their services for free in order to gain new clients. This not-uncommon practice is referred to as “suicide pricing” for obvious reasons.
  8. Lawyers are starting to “unbundle” services, allowing clients to choose a few items from the full menu instead of forcing them to buy the whole package.
  9. A study by the Canadian Bar Association found that a lot of potential clients don’t use lawyers because lawyers refuse to package services in ways the clients want.
  10. Despite the above, very few firms are developing novel products and services.
  11. “Let’s do it the way we’ve always done it, just do it better” is not the answer.
  12. There are a lot of young, innovative lawyers looking for new and interesting ways to serve their clients, thereby growing their businesses.

Change “lawyer” to “Realtor” and all of the above points apply.

In June 2013, the Canadian Bar Association published a 44-page report entitled CBA Legal Futures Initiative: The Future of Legal Services in Canada. All Realtors who strive for excellence and plan to have lengthy careers should read it. CREA tried the same thing a few years ago, but most of the recommendations made by the Futures Task Force were rejected by the CREA Board and the delegates at the AGM. They may have assumed that if they ignored change it wouldn’t happen.

It is time for Realtors to reach out to law societies in their respective provinces to discuss the challenges faced by both professions, and the possible solutions for those challenges. We have a lot to learn from each other. Remember too that virtually all lawyers are involved in real estate, as conveyancing practitioners, litigators, estate planners or consumers of residential and/or commercial real estate.


  1. This cynical article is unworthy of being published. It is filled with hate and disrespect and should be paid no heed.

  2. Respectfully….get your head out of the sand.

    Realtors are unskilled untrained low producing sales reps who don’t even know TREB reported March Sales in their April Transactions Reported release.

    A Lawyers business model is built on success because without clients you make no money.
    Brokerages business model is built on renting desks and any sucker you can find who believes the Median REALTOR selling 1 home a year is comparable to a Lawyer is absurd.

    Now you may “manage” an office but then we need to ask how many Suspicious Transaction Reports did your office file with FIntrac the last 10 years? As a lawyer and office manager I am sure you have 100s or even 1000s of Personal ID forms stored safely in a PIPEDIA compliant manner for your Brokerage as is
    required by law.

    Has Fintrac stopped in to collect them? Lets hope you have one for every buyer and seller every sales rep
    in your office has worked with the last decade or so!

    There is no comparison between a Degree in Law and a License to Trade Real Estate. If you are stating that the Top 3% of CREA members should drop the REALTOR trademark and begin operating under a banner where a high degree of competency, skill, training and education applies maybe there you can start.

    More Fairy Dust and Unicorn opinions only cause thousands and thousands of innocent families to beleive they can make a living selling real estate after building up a year or more of debt to get started.

    The Real Estate Brokerage business is one built to profit from failure not success. It is built to allow 100 sales reps to sell 100 homes in a year not 10 sales reps selling 10 homes each a year.

    Finally, do lawyers lie to the public each month? Do lawyers allow the Law Society to outright lie to the public to protect their members incomes?

    Honesty and Ethics is the only solution and that starts with admitting the Real Estate Brokerage industry is built to capitalize on the failure of those working in it. The greatest pyramid scheme ever create.

    After working with what 100 lawyers over the years, I can promise you not one of them built their practice on failure.

    Lets start being honest if we want our words recorded forever on google.

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