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  2. Standard 9: Ensuring Sound Transactions
  3. A. Legal Review and Technical Expertise

A. Legal Review and Technical Expertise

  • Obtain a legal review of every land and conservation agreement transaction, appropriate to its complexity, by a lawyer or notary experienced in real estate law.
  • As dictated by the project, secure appropriate technical expertise, such as in financial, real estate, tax, scientific, indigenous and land and water management matters.


A timely and thorough legal review for every transaction is essential—to protect both the land trust and the resource values entrusted to it. Land transactions need to be structured in a way that protects the land trust’s interests and ensures that they last. To be durable and defensible, legal documents and agreements should be reviewed by a lawyer familiar with real estate and tax law and who understands the nuances and implications of the legal language. Land trusts regularly engaged in conservation agreement transactions may use a standard agreement template that is prepared by a lawyer. Staff or volunteers may do the drafting from the template, but a lawyer should conduct at least a brief review of the final document, particularly of the legal description and areas where the drafter has deviated from the template. A lawyer should also review the template on an annual basis. Land trusts using lawyers on their board to review their transactions must take special care to see that the lawyer has the appropriate experience with conservation agreements and that any undue benefit is avoided. In many transactions, a land trust may also need professional advice and assistance with land planning, water rights, mineral rights, biological inventories, and environmental assessments for hazardous materials, land management, and other issues.