As a lawyer, manager of a brokerage and a member of the Real Estate Institute of Canada (REIC) I’m
surrounded by rules of professional conduct and codes of ethics. All of my actions – whether they’re related
to my work or not – are filtered through not only the Law Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct, but also
Real Estate and Business Broker’s Act and REIC’s Code of Ethics. While this seems like quite the process, I
discovered that being ethical just as good as having a lawyer on demand.
How to Develop Your Own Legal Intuition
If you practice ethical behavior consistently – from how you act with your family members to how you treat
your clients and other real estate professionals – you’ll become “lawsuit-proof”. This is because you develop
a very strong intuition around what is ethical and, defacto, what is legal.
How Intuition Works
Intuition, as it turns out, isn’t magic. Rather, it’s our brain quickly spitting out a mass amount of information
we’ve gathered and analyzed through years of repeated actions. An example of this is when you “just knew”
that the deal was going to fall apart or that the buyer wasn’t serious. Your gut instinct is not magic. Rather,
it’s your unconscious brain picking up on numerous cues and these cues trigger a “gut reaction” you’ve had
in the past to those very same cues.
Given how intuition works, it follows that developing a “legal mind” and lawsuit radar can be done through
memorizing the Code and practicing ethical behavior. The problem in doing this, however, is that ethical
behavior isn’t clear cut and memorizing the Code is not an easy or immediate solution. Given these obstacles,
I use Institute of Real Estate Management’s “Five Question Method”. By consistent application of the these 5
questions, I am not only able to clarify and examine ethical issues, but I’m also able to access a “built in
mini-lawyer”. These questions are:
1. Is it illegal?
2. Who is affected by your decision? And how?
3. What are the consequences of the decision?
4. How do you feel about the situation?
5. Have you examined all the alternatives?
If this is even too difficult, then an even simpler question to guide you is: “Would you like to see your action
talked about on the first page of your local newspaper?” If the answer is “no”, it is likely unethical and
possibly a breach of the law.