Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Spring/Summer 2006 issue.

That beautiful home or condo on the bay is now yours, and you’re planning to enjoy more time in Vallarta. Not meant as a dire prediction, but a practical approach, you may need to spend some time in a lawyer’s office in Mexico, as well. The contracts for that new business, the will for certain assets in Mexico, and the lease on the condo you’re renting out will all require local legal services. And in the event of an unfortunate occurrence such as an automobile accident or a lawsuit, an attorney would be necessary.

The Notario who handled your real estate purchase is, indeed, a highly trained attorney. These special lawyers give up private practice to become agents of record, their duties including authenticating documents, examining wills and contracts as to proper form, and acting as official recorder in connection with real estate and other business. Although he cannot represent you in litigation or act as your advocate, only advise to prevent litigation, the Notario can probably recommend an Abogado, or attorney, for your particular need, perhaps someone from his own office.

As in the USA or Canada, you should seek advice from trustworthy sources and check references before hiring a lawyer. Legally, only a licensed attorney should provide legal advice. If an attorney is qualified in Mexico, he should have a cedula profesional. You may ask to see this document and to have the attorney’s license number included in a retainer agreement before employing any services. Also as in the USA and Canada, Mexican lawyers are becoming more specialized as the volume and complexity of Mexican law grows. So, seek an attorney with experience and knowledge regarding your matter.

Mexican lawyers are highly educated and many speak English. Students enter law school after 11 years of formal education and then work for a firm or government office as a clerk (Pasante), until presenting an oral examination to become a Licenciado en Derecho. In Mexico, lawyers are licensed to practice throughout the country, not in just one state, as in the USA. Therefore, you can hire an attorney in Jalisco to handle an issue in Nayarit – or in Mexico City.