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  • Writer's pictureKarel Costa-Armas

“Lawyer Up,” Common Ground Magazine


Some boards only engage legal counsel when a situation has become dire. Others are overly cautious and all the attorney at the drop of a hat, but unusually high legal bills often lead to membership scrutiny.

More often than not, however, boards don’t consult legal counsel enough. It’s a dangerous way to do business since every board action is viewed through a prism of reasonableness. Failing to obtain legal advice on subjects outside a board’s expertise might cast it as unreasonable in the eyes of a judge or mediator.

Before knowing when to call, every board should decide at its organizational meeting which members will be authorized to contact the attorney and other service providers to control costs, eliminate duplicate or conflicting requests, and set the right tone for operations.

Authorized contacts must understand that the only requests and queries made to the attorney are those at the direction of the board, not ones that concern personal issues or agendas. An experienced attorney usually knows when a request or question may be driven by one director and not supported by the entire board. If that occurs, the attorney should insist on polling the board to determine that the request was made with the group’s direction.

Here are a few situations ....

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