Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No one benefits from a community in turmoil.

Despite what you may have been told, most attorneys I know don't root for communities to head into crisis mode so they can crank out the billable hours. These kinds of communities present all sorts of challenges and potential liabilities for the attorneys who serve them.

A board under siege (either due to their own petty infighting or because they have been victimized) is an unfocused board. A client that can't understand and follow advice or, even worse, doesn't know when to reach out for help in the first place, is a dangerous client to have. It's easy for fighting board members to twist counsel's words or advice to their own advantage. Let's not also overlook the fact that having a scapegoat like your association attorney when there is nowhere left to hide from bad decisions can be appealing for some.

Do you know what happens most frequently in conflicted communities? They don't pay their legal bills. Contrary to the belief that "the lawyers are benefitting from all this", many times lawyers representing communities in crisis wind up struggling to get paid. Wise attorneys won't work with communities who can't or won't benefit from their advice.

Associations are corporate entities which require general corporate representation. There will always be enough legal work that must be performed for well-run, peaceful communities. Documents need to be tended, budgets prepared, meetings held, units conveyed, etc. Of course, just as with any other corporate entity there will be bumps in the road in the form of collections and litigation.

An association attorney's real worst nightmare is a community in turmoil because it probably means being fired, not paid or possibly sued. Just as associations should be picky about the attorneys they invite into their communities, attorneys should be equally selective about the associations with whom they choose to partner for the ultimate benefit of the membership.

1 comment:

  1. Management companies and CAMs cant give legal advise. So who Can? Attorneys!! !An attorney is licensed to give LEGAL advise that's how they make a living. The board should know what is in their document, and what statures pertain to their communities. Condos have the Ombudsman office and the DBPR. Not so unfortunately with the HOA. Those directors who would rather disagree rather than compromise and make a decision what to do, Need the services of an attorney. But don't complain about the legal fees. because that is what you agreed to in exchange for the advise. My comment here pertains only to the subject.l