We pretty much know what most people think about their attorney (although mercifully there are exceptions to this general rule of overall dissatisfaction with lawyers dating back centuries), but have you ever stopped to think about what your counselor thinks of you and your board?
I recently asked the attorneys at my law firm, Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum (KGR) for insight in to our clientele which is primarily made up of community associations. After all, you can't truly serve someone if you don't understand them. Here are some of the observations a dozen of my KGR attorneys made regarding community association boards:
"Representing community associations can be a lot like the movie 50 First Dates. You have to keep reintroducing the firm and what we can do for them as the board composition changes."
"The overwhelming majority of our boards and board members are very willing, if not eager and yearning to be guided, led and mentored. In addition, while they do not always play well with each other, and sometimes lose sight of the fact that they are all on the same team, most board members are willing to play their hearts out under the right coach (us)."
"One size does not fit all when it comes to association clients so you have to know your client or who is in control of your client."
"Association clients need and are open to suggestions, recommendations and directives of a strong but involved and caring coach. They crave new, innovative and proactive game plans that are tailored to the particular needs of their communities, take into consideration and incorporate their own ideas and concerns and anticipate potential pitfalls."
"A community association law firm is not merely a tool for the board's use in achieving its objectives. Rather, it is more like an active partnership with the board where our role is to make suggestions as to what they should be doing, how they should be doing it as well as advising how they can best exercise their business judgment."
"Associations no matter how small or large, pro-active or dormant, professionally managed or self-managed, inescapably have an absolute need for at least one legal service which is contract review/dispute resolution. By contrast, the problems we do see is when the association consummates a deal without seeking legal advice and the last thing they want to hear at that point is 'you should have asked us for help before agreeing to this'."
"Boards and property managers still do not understand the importance in starting the collection process early on. They tend to wait 6 months or more to initiate collections. Their issues are not a nuisance to us, we care and can help."
"Know your audience and the level of knowledge they have regarding legal issues that impact their community. Each board member and property manager is different. Some associations require extra hand holding while others prefer to review their status report in silence."
"Often times the clients who scream the loudest understand the process the least. Reasonable expectations need to be set early on in the relationship so that everyone is satisfied as the matters progress."
"Nothing turns a client off more than overbilling, underexplaining and being unavailable."
“Associations are in desperate need of cash flow in today’s economy and they inevitably look to their attorneys for help. The board members do not want to be left in the dark and therefore constant and open communication between the attorneys and the board members will help guide them through this difficult period.”
Do any of these comments resonate with you? To see some of the folks quoted above, please click on the Our Attorneys tab at www.kgrlawfirm.com.