How Can Managers Work Together With the Association Attorney?
Managers play a very important role as the front line alarm system for potential liability risks. A good manager should be able to determine when the association's professional resources should be consulted with. For example, there may be situations where the community's insurance agent needs to clarify coverage. Other times, the corporate Human Resources staff needs to weigh in on employee matters. The big gun opinions are the legal ones. These legal opinions can determine the direction a situation will take.
A good manager can ask the board to seek legal advice on a pending action, clarify the wording in their documents, review negotiations, or just about anything the board and management need clarification on.
Your association's attorney is a layer of protection against many threats. In my opinion, the most commonly generated legal problems stem from simple mistakes that could have been clarified and prevented by counsel. Would have, could have , should have... will be uttered many times once the lawsuit arrives.
How can a manager help get the right information most efficiently from their legal counsel? I recommend the following be considered because it is what can be expected:
Provide perspective. Give your opinion on the matter in a neutral manner so the incident is more relatable to counsel.
Provide a history of prior actions taken with this incident or others that may be similar. This will allow the attorney to evaluate if there is a precedent set from prior decisions.
Provide online info you may already have on similar situations. Are there links online that can help counsel weigh the information? Share them.
Provide copies of prior counsel's opinions. Laws may have changed and the new attorney needs a bit of history on prior opinions issued to the association.
What are some common services attorneys provide for associations:
- Document interpretation
- Contract Review
- Legal Opinions / Lawsuit prep
A good management company or even a great manager can be great guides in the industry but they have their limitations. Your association may be spending millions of dollars and be responsible for the safety and well being of the residents that live in a community. Do you think a few legal opinions may be necessary? In fact, a good manager will always defer to legal counsel when warranted. Everyone has their scope of work to work within. The association's attorney should be sought whenever there is a situation clouded by doubt or liability risks arise.
Does you association have an attorney on retainer?
Maybe there isn't a formal retainer but the attorney is none the less the assigned legal representative. If your association doesn't have a clear resource for legal matters, they need to begin interviews and choose one. The legal demands of Homeowner and Condo Associations are ever growing. Don't be penny wise and dollar foolish.
Go to the professionals of the legal field to help you operate properly.
see more on my blog at www.HomeownerAssociationConsulting.com
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