Real Estate Lawyer

I was fortunate enough to meet with Norman Kahn, a real estate lawyer and partner of Aird & Berlis, a large law firm in Toronto. Norman always liked debating, arguing and negotiating and when he was young he wanted to be a politician. However, after completing an undergraduate degree in political sciences, he applied to law school. He loved law school, which is rare among lawyers, and believes that even if you aren’t going to be a lawyer, law school is a worthwhile education—it teaches you how to think. After articling at a few firms and working on small real estate deals, he decided to specialize in large, complex real estate deals.

He loves to think and enjoys the complexity and large stakes of multimillion-dollar deals. At the beginning of his career, Norman had a tough time juggling his day around. Although every day begins with the intention to get some scheduled work done (contract writing, etc.), clients call Norman all the time (even after work hours) to get advice or to put together transactions out of the blue. Now that Norman has experience, he handles it very well, but this is no easy feat. 

Overall, to be a successful and highly regarded real estate lawyer like Norman Kahn, you have to find logical and sometimes creative ways to figure out what is best for your client. You have to work really hard and be able to juggle the tasks around effectively. 

Largest deals: Two-billion-dollar financing deal and a 250-million-dollar deal. Smallest deal: A small triangle of land bought by the city for 70 thousand dollars.  

A Typical Day

Norman Kahn, a partner at Aird & Berlis, has varying days throughout the week. Although he does have documents to draft up, at any time a client could call him seeking legal advice or a partner could seek his real estate expertise.

Top 3 Perks

1) Working in atmosphere where you complete high-quality work 

2) Being in a large firm means minimal administrative work (everything is taken care of) 

3) Lawyers make a good living  

Job Culture

Indoors, stressful work since you are dealing with millions of dollars and pressure, long hours, lots of meetings, corporate benefits, telephone calls, unscheduled days.


1) Complete at least 2 years of an undergraduate degree 

2) Write the LSAT 

3) Complete 3 years of law school 

4) Pass the bar admissions program 


 - Get an MBA

- it will help a lot in terms of understanding your clients' businesses. 

 - Find a niche area in law that is up and coming to be very successful. 

Skills Needed

Analytical and logical, people skills, handling pressure, hardworking, time management skills, listening, communication.

The Field

- Technology has made deals lots quicker. 

- Instead of meetings with clients, lawyers often use e-mail and teleconferencing. 

- The expectations due to a faster technological society are a lot higher and quicker, but lawyers still have to read the same long and detailed documents, even if these can be sent in less than a second. 

- It can be tough to find clients.