Why you need to hire a property tax lawyer

So what do you call one thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A good start.

There are thousands of lawyer jokes. This one is not bad. And I’m of the opinion that if you can’t poke a little fun at yourself, you need to take a long walk off a short pier.

But, I’m amazed at how attorneys are perceived by the public at large. I come from a family with a lot of lawyers. I have a lot of friends who are attorneys. Colleagues. Acquaintances. Opponents. I’ve met thousands over my lifetime. Very few, maybe a handful, have not measured up to being an earnest, competent advocate who ethically represents their clients’ interest. Many lawyers are some of the best people I know on the planet.

I love my profession. I worked very hard to earn the license to represent a person in a court of law in Illinois. I’m grateful, and humbled, to be a practicing lawyer. I do not for a minute take the responsibility of representing a client lightly. Some may think I’m naïve, but I believe that the vast majority of lawyers in our society feel the same way.

So, I thought that I would dedicate my first blog post to try to convince you that, even if you don’t hire Walsh Law, LLC to challenge your property taxes, you should absolutely hire an attorney to do it.

We save you time

The older I get the more I realize that time is the greatest resource. It’s a cliché. But it’s a cliché because it’s true.

Property taxes are complicated. Take a look at your property tax bill from your county treasurer. Just deciphering the calculation is difficult for many of our clients. Now consider also figuring out the different rules, different standards of evidence, and different procedures for filing a property tax appeal across multiple bodies overseeing the process.

Some people always appeal their own property taxes. The assessor’s office even “helps” you do it. But I recently got off the phone with a client who tried appealing his own taxes. He wanted to save some money by representing himself. He went to the local assessor’s office in his township. He talked to a representative who “guided” him through the process of finding comps.

He lost.

He lost because he didn’t find the right comps. He didn’t find the right comps because the assessor isn’t interested in reducing your property taxes. The assessor is the person who sets the assessment. They probably think they're doing a good job, right?

Hiring an attorney, who knows the ins and outs of the entire system, will save you a tremendous amount of headache, heartache, and time.

We save you money

Over the last five years, Walsh Law, LLC has represented over fifteen thousand clients in challenging the tax assessment on their property. We have saved our clients millions of dollars. That’s not an overstatement. I’m actually in the process of calculating an exact dollar figure.

And that’s just the last five years. We’ve been cutting people’s property taxes since 2003.

One of the main reasons I decided to go back to law school was knowing I could make a significant impact by helping people save money. It's why I get up in the morning. I am passionate about saving my clients’ money. It genuinely makes me happy cutting their tax burden and giving them the freedom to choose how they want to spend their hard-earned money.

Cook County and Lake County residents in Illinois have on average some of the highest tax burdens in the entire country. And a large portion of property owners do not appeal their taxes! Even when it’s their constitutional right to challenge the assessment of their property granted by the Illinois Constitution. It truly boggles my mind. So many people are leaving money on the table.

It pays to hire someone who does it for a living.

We’ve put in our 10,000 hours 

If you haven’t heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule, you might be living under a rock. While there has been evidence suggesting his theory is nonsense, (if interested go here) it’s still a useful yardstick. It’s a compelling way to say that practice not only makes you perfect, but it also makes you an expert.

Walsh Law, LLC has put in our ten thousand hours. We’re willing to bet, based on the number of attorneys in our practice area, and the longevity of their careers, that a large percentage of them have done the same.

This is our business. It’s our livelihood. It’s how we feed our families and keep a roof over our heads. Over the thousands of cases that Walsh Law, LLC processes every year, we are constantly trying to improve our results, refine our processes, and create more value for our clients. We have recently begun to incorporate data science into our analysis to find you the best cut possible.

Do you think it’s worth your time to learn how to do what we do? Do you think you’ll get the same result?

When you hire a lawyer it’s all about you

As lawyers, we have a duty to zealously protect and pursue your legitimate interests within the bounds of the law. We have a duty to educate you about the process of your property tax appeal, to keep in contact during your representation about any developments, and to interpret any laws, regulations, or rulings for you.

The job of a lawyer forces me to wear many hats: as an advisor, a negotiator, an empathetic ear, a zealous advocate, and even an evaluator of the system as a whole.  By hiring an attorney, we become an agent and your personal representative before any court or quasi-judicial body. This creates a relationship where we owe you a fiduciary duty, which is really just a fancy way of saying we must, by law, place your personal interests above our own. And every attorney in the state has sworn to obey, uphold, and protect the laws of the United States and the Illinois Constitution.

This is not something I take lightly. Nor does any lawyer. Hire someone whose entire job is to look out for your best interests.

Only an attorney can represent you


Finally, there are many reputable law firms in the property tax appeal world that legitimately represent clients. However, some private companies, who are not licensed to practice law in Illinois, solicit property owners to challenge their assessments.

According to the rules established in both Cook County and Lake County, these companies are prohibited from representing you before the quasi-judicial bodies overseeing your appeal. Only a lawyer can present evidence in a live hearing, direct a witness, and argue before the Boards of Review at the county level, and the Property Tax Appeal Board at the state level.

In some instances, and by law, property owners have had assessment reductions overturned because they were illegitimately represented by a company that solicits customers to challenge property taxes, yet were not licensed attorneys.

Don’t let that happen. Don’t leave money on the table. Hire a professional who has sworn a duty to put your interests above their own. It will save you time. And most importantly, it’ll save you money. Sometimes a lot of money.

Even if you don't hire us, we believe it's in your interest to hire an attorney to represent you to appeal your property taxes.