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Subject: Communications with Attornies
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Author Messages
JamesA1
(Maryland)

Posts:20


04/06/2017 2:19 PM  
Looking for opinions on best practice regarding communications with an attorney.
Email seems to be a preferred method but I am wondering the advisability of using email
I suppose texting is also used. In times past letters were written and were the official record of the communication. Technology is wonderful but are there cautions when using it for this purpose? Thanks in advance.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:13855


04/06/2017 3:26 PM  
1) Communication with Association attorney should be approved by the Board vs. individual whim.
2) Topics and exact questions should be agreed upon.
3) Written is best.


When approved, I always contact our attorney via email.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:3703


04/06/2017 3:54 PM  
Same as with Tim. Our president is liaison with our HOA attorney; he is contract required this and it seems best.

Once our board agrees on the question(s) to be asked, The PM emails the attorney. We always start with email since simple replies are included in our annual $500 retainer with his firm. If he/his staff must do much research for an opinion, he lets us know in his email reply.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6322


04/06/2017 4:38 PM  
NOTE: Make sure to understand your Attorney's policy on charges for communications. They can and will charge for phone calls, emails, office visits, and even text messages. Our lawyer charged for each response about $25 per email. Make sure to understand what your lawyer charges and for what.

It is best to limit the contact to one designated person on the board. Which typically is the President. However, it is possible to assign another board member who may be trusted/knowledgeable if that is what is agreed upon. They still need approval before contacting the lawyer.

Remember the HOA lawyer is for the WHOLE HOA and NOT individual members. Make sure that is understood by all. Lawyers can be tricky. Be careful of any that says "I will do what you tell me to do". That usually means there are other options available that may or may not require them.

Former HOA President
AugustinD


Posts:344


04/06/2017 6:33 PM  
My two favorite HOA attorneys rarely emailed or put anything in writing unless the HOA was in court. Both preferred phone calls. They said long email exchanges work poorly. I agree.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:1692


04/07/2017 6:52 AM  
One person's opinion on best practices when communicating with attorneys

Emails are fine, but y use an email address that's dedicated to association business. Years ago, I attended a CAI seminar where an attorney warned against using personal email accounts. If there's a lawsuit where you may have to produce emails, the other side can request copies of emails from that account - ALL of them, so they can look through them for the pertinent messages.

Keep your language cordial but professional - no name calling, threats, etc.

I wouldn't text anything. It's ok if you text that you're on your way to an appointment, but when discussing contracts, lawsuits, etc., that needs to be done in person or through a phone call or emails where you can attach pertinent documents.

If you do have a phone conversation or personal meeting, remember the clock is ticking and rambling will lead to higher attorneys fees. Prepare by typing out your questions and sending them to the attorney in advance - you may be able to get some of your answers up front, which will save time when you do meet. Organize your documents and bring those with you so you don't waste time searching for what you need.

Designate ONE board member to contact the association attorney. When I was board treasurer, I had frequent contacts with our attorney over various accounts, so to ensure everyone was in the loop, I copied the other board members as well as our property manager.

Don't run to the attorney for EVERY single question - the board may want to set some general guidelines when the attorney should be consulted. Often you'll find the answer in your documents, so make the time to read them first. If it's not in your documents, check the board's rules and regulations. If you still can't find anything, try using simple common sense. Sometimes, you can figure things out by slowing down, applying careful thought to the matter and coming up with a number of options to consider
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:3703


04/07/2017 10:57 AM  
Good idea, Sheila. Our board prez, PM & I will have a conference call with our HOA attorney soon, and writing down our questions in advance will help save us $$.
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:2665


04/07/2017 10:34 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 04/06/2017 6:33 PM
My two favorite HOA attorneys rarely emailed or put anything in writing unless the HOA was in court. Both preferred phone calls. They said long email exchanges work poorly. I agree.


Actually they most likely do not like email because it leaves a paper trail and held accountable to what was stated. Phone calls if ever disputed is he said vs. he said.

James ... Depending on what the communication is in regards to and whether you need backup for future dispute or court will determine your choice.
AugustinD


Posts:344


04/08/2017 5:01 PM  
Janet, maybe. I think it's more likely that every legal situation has nuance. In phone calls, they try to respond to the immediate concern, but of course there is all manner of nuance that they do not want to put in writing, due to the time intensity of this and how it does not achieve much practically. Of course the poor attorneys are happy to put all manner of crap in writing to run up the billable hours.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:3703


04/08/2017 6:32 PM  
Our board and PM have been very comfortable with phone calls with our last two HOA attorneys. Sorry: my error above!! Phone calls are included in our retainer. But experience has shown me that they don't bill us for simple email replies.
SleepyC
(New Mexico)

Posts:8


04/16/2017 11:00 AM  
Gee, wasn't there a presidential candidate to got into trouble for deleting a bunch of emails?

Do you know why some people thought that was a problem?

Except for trivial things (new phone number, confirming a meeting, etc) I always phone attorneys in my life.

I don't want what I say in an angry email appearing in front of a judge some day.

TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:13855


04/17/2017 4:05 PM  
Posted By SleepyC on 04/16/2017 11:00 AM

I don't want what I say in an angry email appearing in front of a judge some day.





Hence the reason to write drafts and reread it later when you are calmer before sending it.
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