Knowing when to call in expert help can make all the difference in the outcome of a situation. When it comes to legal help, it could be the deciding factor in whether you spend extra money and valuable time in court at some point. As a rule, if you think you might need qualified legal counsel, you’re probably correct. Legalities can be detailed and complex. It’s better to call in the experts early than to wait until things have gotten complicated.
Four specific situations that require an attorney
- Anytime you are creating or making changes to documents that will need to be signed, it is important to have an attorney review them. This includes amendments to governing documents, insurance amendments, lease restriction amendments, vendor contracts, etc. A legal review of these documents before they are signed by the parties ensures that they are legally enforceable.
- Involvement in a dispute whether it’s to address litigation, or to attempt to avoid it, you’ll want your attorney to be in the loop to make sure your interests are protected. Any kind of ongoing or escalated disputes are absolutely a time to call in your lawyer for reinforcement. Having them present at a meeting between the parties or at a meeting of the board to discuss the issue at hand attaches confidentiality privilege that would not exist in a legal sense should the issue be discussed at a general meeting without your attorney present.
- Any board meeting you expect to be contentious or when you know a topic on the agenda is likely to cause tempers to flare. If the board is not getting along with each other or if the association members are in conflict with the board, tensions can rise quickly in meetings. Having your association attorney present to chair the meeting can level the playing field and discourage anyone from getting out of hand. Plus, attorneys are experienced at conflict resolution and impartial to whatever issue is causing the conflict.
- For general legal counsel or representation of the board, the association, or an individual board member on an issue related to their position within the association. There are any number of reasons that the board or the association as an entity might need to be represented by an attorney. So, this one is a bit of a catch-all category. One of the problems with not having an attorney’s services retained is that it is impossible to predict when you will need them or for what reasons. Liability related to injuries on the property, tax concerns, and owner grievances are all situations in which the advice of an attorney is needed.
Don’t forget to include legal costs in your annual budget.
A la carte legal services can be difficult to budget for. One way to get an idea of how much of your budget should be allotted for legal costs is history. Looking at your expenses in past years will give you an idea of how much to plan for. However, that could still leave you with a budget crisis should you have a bigger issue arise. I’ll be discussing the benefits of having an attorney on retainer in my next blog, so come back to check that out.
If you have an issue you need assistance with now, or if you would like to discuss the specifics of retaining Fernandez Law for your association please reach out. We’re looking forward to working with you.