Interesting piece by Stuart Lieberman (lawyer) on the use of lawyers to assist in real estate closings, from RealtyTimes:
Real Estate practices and procedures are all local. For example, here in New Jersey things are done differently depending on whether you are located in North Jersey or South Jersey.
In North Jersey, people usually use a real estate lawyer to assist them with their real estate transaction. For as little as $700.00 or so, a lawyer can help you with the sale of your home. Prices do vary and it costs a little more if you are buying a home.
My office is located in Central New Jersey and we see both practices. When lawyers are not involved, title companies do most of the work that lawyers would otherwise do.