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Subject: Does your HOA have an HOA Attorney ?
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Author Messages
NicoleO5
(California)

Posts:55


07/08/2020 12:17 PM  
Hello there,
I am wondering if this is a common occurrence. Does your HOA have an attorney on retainer or one that you consult regarding every day HOA matters, possible legal issues and internal issues with owners?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/08/2020 12:59 PM  
We have one on retainer. What made us decide to go this route in that the firm specializes in community associations - they have no other clients. And their stated goal is to keep their clients out of legal trouble.

For a relatively modest retainer, we receive unlimited free 15-minute phone calls (for general, day to day stuff), free quarterly in-person training seminars (prior to COVID they were in person), access to all training materials on their web site, and quarterly newsletters covering various topics. For board members who are motivated to do a good job, this training is a gold mine and well worth the cost of the retainer.

I don't know how common this sort of law firm is. I have found stuff on other law firms' web sites that do address issues faced by HOAs. But from comments posted on this site, I get the impression that the firm we use is not typical and that is unfortunate.
NicoleO5
(California)

Posts:55


07/08/2020 2:17 PM  
How large is your community?
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7397


07/08/2020 2:35 PM  
How large is your community, Nicole? Condos? Detached homes? Or? What does your board do for legal advice now?

We have an attorney who specializes in CA HOA for a $600 ann. retainer. It includes unlimited free phone calls; attendance at two board meetings plus the annual meeting per year. Obviously, if research must be done re: a phone question, we're charged by 10-minutes increments based on the skill-level needed, i.e, we pay less for a paralegal than a partner.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/08/2020 2:54 PM  
Posted By NicoleO5 on 07/08/2020 2:17 PM
How large is your community?




We're a condo community, less than 20 years old, 74 units, no amenities.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9678


07/08/2020 3:04 PM  
Our HOA has an attorney of record but since Declarant turnover, we have never used him. His practice is the largest HOA/debt collection practice in SC so we keep him as attorney of record to scare of any attorney that might want to take us on. Seems to have worked for what I have heard.

We also have a local, easy going lawyer we use for liens and/or threat of such. His letters mention legal action for back dues but he does not collect the money. He insists they pay the HOA.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9446


07/08/2020 3:33 PM  
It really depends on many factors for a HOA to have an attorney. A larger HOA may have one versus a smaller HOA. Really a lawyer is just another "Contactor/tool" like an Electrician. A HOA doesn't have a license to practice law so they need to hire an attorney for that resource.

Most of the time you never need an attorney on "retainer". That's just a waste of money. Unless your HOA is involved in a long term lawsuit, no need for that. A HOA ONLY needs a lawyer for filing liens/foreclosure. Maybe writing a legal response, advice, or violation notification. All of which can be "play you pay" type of service.

Keep in mind to be aware of any lawyer that tells you "I will do whatever you tell me to do". That should raise red flags. It's NOT a bad thing in every situation. Just know it's usually code for "There is something else you can do without needing to hire me the lawyer". Plus it could indicate a lawyer that has some scruples...

Why do you think you need a lawyer? Corporations do need them for representing them in court. Otherwise, many services are singular needs.

Former HOA President
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/08/2020 5:05 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/08/2020 3:33 PM
It really depends on many factors for a HOA to have an attorney. A larger HOA may have one versus a smaller HOA. Really a lawyer is just another "Contactor/tool" like an Electrician. A HOA doesn't have a license to practice law so they need to hire an attorney for that resource.

Most of the time you never need an attorney on "retainer". That's just a waste of money. Unless your HOA is involved in a long term lawsuit, no need for that. A HOA ONLY needs a lawyer for filing liens/foreclosure. Maybe writing a legal response, advice, or violation notification. All of which can be "play you pay" type of service.

Keep in mind to be aware of any lawyer that tells you "I will do whatever you tell me to do". That should raise red flags. It's NOT a bad thing in every situation. Just know it's usually code for "There is something else you can do without needing to hire me the lawyer". Plus it could indicate a lawyer that has some scruples...

Why do you think you need a lawyer? Corporations do need them for representing them in court. Otherwise, many services are singular needs.




I agree with Melissa and I’m a lawyer. Not a HOA lawyer, though.

I’d hire a lawyer with specific skills for specific projects, or engage a partner at a firm who can send lawyers with specific skills for specific projects.

HOA lawyers are bottom-of-the-barrel, in many instances, so I wouldn’t look for a “HOA lawyer”.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/08/2020 5:19 PM  
Many of those you disparage as bottom of the barrel might not agree with your personal assessment.

Our HOA attorney would rip your heart out - legally, of course.

I would, not being trained as a non bottom of the barrel attorney, stand to the side and smile.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7397


07/08/2020 5:39 PM  
It's all right, George, even though he's not one Paul seems to feel he's qualified to talk smack about attorneys who specialize in all things HOA. And these might even be rare in some states where there's no or very little HOA legislation.

But in states like CA, FL, probably AZ, and maybe others, there's a great deal of HOA legislation. What we've most often needed is interpretation of our CC&Rs or even Bylaws with respects to state HOA laws and/or corporation codes.

So it depends on the state. But also on the size & complexity of the HOA. It's common around our 'hood, which is almost entirely high rise HOAs with numerous units to keep on HOA attorney on retainer. We use a different law firm for collections and they aren't on retainer.

I'd tend to agree that smaller HOAs with little complexity would need or want an attorney on retainer.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3358


07/08/2020 6:06 PM  
Our community also has a HOA law firm on retainer, and dealing with delinquencies takes up a lot of their time. When I was on the board, I worked with them a lot since I was treasurer. Once a year, I'd meet with him and review all the cases (and we had A LOT at the time) and came up with a general strategy. From there all I had to do was check the monthly financial report to see what was going on. There were some things are ask them to do automatically, which saved time on calling for this or that.

I think the primary businesspeople make with HOW attorney is that they call about EVERYTHING. They'll answer your questions, but you'll get billed for it and those costs can add up. A lot of time and money can be saved by reading your documents half the time and using common sense the rest of the time.

Not every issue in HOA land will be addressed in a state of local, and there are very few if any HOA laws on a federal level. This is where common sense, consistency and fairness, and a dash of creative thinking come into play. Start with educating the community on the documents, be transparent in what the board is doing. Being up once in a while and listen to the homeowners - everyone has something valid to say. Don't be afraid to think outside the box or to say no. Sometimes that IS the answer.


PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/08/2020 7:23 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/08/2020 5:39 PM
It's all right, George, even though he's not one Paul seems to feel he's qualified to talk smack about attorneys who specialize in all things HOA. And these might even be rare in some states where there's no or very little HOA legislation.

But in states like CA, FL, probably AZ, and maybe others, there's a great deal of HOA legislation. What we've most often needed is interpretation of our CC&Rs or even Bylaws with respects to state HOA laws and/or corporation codes.

So it depends on the state. But also on the size & complexity of the HOA. It's common around our 'hood, which is almost entirely high rise HOAs with numerous units to keep on HOA attorney on retainer. We use a different law firm for collections and they aren't on retainer.

I'd tend to agree that smaller HOAs with little complexity would need or want an attorney on retainer.




KerryL1, I sued a HOA LAWYER for misconduct while representing the HOA, including for violations of HOA laws.

I prevailed very quickly, and the defendant was described as the best HOA lawyer in town.

HOA law is not rocket science. I found it much easier than other areas of the law, such as derivatives, for example.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/08/2020 7:37 PM  
Not surprising.

A genius by your own admission.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 3:54 AM  
For my own HOA lawyer experience, here's what happened:

"Henry HOA Lawyer" represented my HOA. He's the self-described "best HOA lawyer in [City Name]".

I had zero experience with HOA law before dealing with him.

I saw the quality of his legal work, and it was really poor. He had represented the HOA for years, and the HOA had done all sorts of illegal things under his watch--with him present when illegal actions took place. And the legal documents that he produced were full of errors.

I spent just an hour or so doing some quick research about HOA laws, and I realized that he (a HOA lawyer) had violated numerous HOA laws in his own course of conduct.

So I sued him. He quickly folded. He acknowledged violating HOA laws (various statutes).

If someone is a HOA lawyer, and is the "best HOA lawyer in" town, and if someone who isn't a HOA lawyer sues the HOA lawyer for violations of HOA laws, and the HOA lawyer quickly concedes and even acknowledges his own violations of HOA laws, that's pretty bad.

If that's the best HOA lawyer in town, I'd cringe to see an average one.

Law review members, Yale graduates, Cravath alumni, etc.: they don't become HOA lawyers. HOA lawyers aren't the cream of the crop. They rank with ambulance chasers.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/09/2020 4:44 AM  
Why do I hear The Osmonds singing "One Bad Apple"...?

HOA attorneys, and attorneys in general, are like any other profession. You get excellent ones, you get real stinkers, and you get everything in between. Condemning a whole group based on the behavior of one of them, or even some of them, will simply blind you to what's actually going on.

Frankly, if I were going to award my "2020 Cathy's Bottom of the Barrel Award" to any group, it would be to ambulance chasers or to the pet lawyers owned by career criminals. Who may actually be very skilled, just ethically challenged. But ethics counts for a lot in Cathy's World.

But to get back to HOA attorneys, ours will proactively tell us if they think we'd be wasting our money pursuing something. And we listen because that kind of advice is part of what we're paying them for. Aside from education, we use ours most frequently for debt collection activities and answering general operating questions (the latter of which is free). If more board members had attorneys to advise them and keep them on the sunny side of the law, I expect we'd hear fewer complaints about incompetent or "evil" HOAs.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9446


07/09/2020 5:30 AM  
I think many of us could write a book on hiring lawyers... It also matters the "type" of lawyer your hiring. You are NOT dealing with "Real Estate" 90% of the time in a HOA. So you do NOT need a Real Estate attorney. A HOA lawyer is a specialist. Your going to pay for that expertise. You are a corporation and thus have to follow some corporate laws. So you may need to hire a lawyer in the corporation field.

However, many times for simple things like debt collections i.e. Liens/Foreclosures, your HOA can use a legal service or general attorney. It saves money and effort.

Keep in mind your HOA shouldn't be in the business of filing lawsuits. It's just bad business. The HOA is better off filing a counter-suit if they are ever sued. Less money and do not need a lawyer to file. A HOA filing lawsuits against members depends on what it is for and why. Collection of funds isn't one of those reasons.

So do your research and do not get what I call "romantisized" over what you see on TV. Lawyers do not need retainers to have them. They aren't necessarily needed for everything.

Former HOA President
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 6:07 AM  
MelissaP1 is correct, again.

CathyA3, my point is just that if you look to hire a "HOA lawyer", someone who specializes in the field of HOA law may not be among the best and brightest of the legal profession. In case a HOA, represented by a "HOA lawyer", has a legal run-in with an individual or a business who is represented by a lawyer who doesn't specialize in "HOA law", the other lawyer has a pretty good chance of being sharper than the "HOA lawyer". A legal battle is a paper war, and you need the best army: the sharpest lawyer you can get, and in a battle of a "HOA lawyer" versus another type of lawyer, the other lawyer is often better.

When I sued my HOA, my counsel looked up the "HOA lawyer" online and laughed hysterically. My counsel couldn't believe that there was a group of lawyers that specialized in "HOA law"; my counsel and I (I'm also a lawyer) were appalled by the poor quality of the "HOA lawyer's" legal work, and other lawyers in the community who I showed examples of the "HOA lawyer's" work to responded that they were appalled by the "HOA lawyer's" "brazen ethics violations". Those examples of misconduct put the HOA at risk. And that "HOA lawyer" was allegedly the best in town. No wonder that the "HOA lawyer" didn't prevail in a lawsuit, alleging violations of HOA laws, where the "HOA lawyer" himself was the defendant.
MarshallT
(New York)

Posts:85


07/09/2020 6:07 AM  
Hi,

It really depends on if you can afford to hire the attorney. If so, it doesn't hurt to have one on retainer. Law can be tricky, and there's a lot we as non-lawyers don't know. A lawyer can help ensure you take the best path when faced with complicated decisions or issues, and save you money in the long run. Just make sure they specialize in HOA matters.
MartyS5
(Georgia)

Posts:20


07/09/2020 7:13 AM  
We are an association of 72 homes. We tried hiring a Community Association lawyer several years ago using a retainer. When the legal costs got very high, we looked at hiring a Property Manager. He has a real estate license and knows when to refer us to an attorney. The cost was considerably less.

When I was Board President, under the retainer we were able to get training for our Board members which was invaluable. However, we chose not to renew the retainer agreement and paid on an as needed basis. Then we determined our best bang for the buck was a Property Manager. You will need to vet a PM to make sure they have enough experience to handle most situations.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 7:58 AM  
MartyS5's approach makes sense.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/09/2020 8:58 AM  
Posted By MartyS5 on 07/09/2020 7:13 AM
We are an association of 72 homes. We tried hiring a Community Association lawyer several years ago using a retainer. When the legal costs got very high, we looked at hiring a Property Manager. He has a real estate license and knows when to refer us to an attorney. The cost was considerably less.

When I was Board President, under the retainer we were able to get training for our Board members which was invaluable. However, we chose not to renew the retainer agreement and paid on an as needed basis. Then we determined our best bang for the buck was a Property Manager. You will need to vet a PM to make sure they have enough experience to handle most situations.




Given some of the threads we've had recently about incompetent or dishonest PMs attempting to direct the board's decisions, I'm surprised at this.

In our case the attorney's retainer is $600 per year. We avoid mistakes that could lead to legal wrangling by using the phone calls that are covered by the retainer. The things that we need to pay for would have been paid for regardless of whether the attorneys are on retainer or not. I understand that it can be easy to make use of the lawyer when it's not necessary and drive up legal costs - but that's a failure of discipline, not a failure of the process, and can be avoided.

And given my experience with realtors - I work for a new home builder - a real estate license is no guarantee that the person has a clue about how HOAs and COAs work, no way, no how. The idea of a PM, no matter how knowledgeable, deciding when it's time to call in the legal muscle gives me the heebie-jeebies. And if I were a PM, I would refuse to take on this responsibility even if I believed that I know more than the boards that I'm working with. Liability, don't ya know.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/09/2020 9:17 AM  
And since I mentioned liability...

If a PM acts at the direction of the board and things go sideways, will the HOA's D&O insurance cover this?

What if the board fails to call in the attorney on the PM's advice and things go sideways, what then? Will the board no longer be able to use the "business judgement" defense since they are using someone else's best judgement and not their own independent evaluation? (This is one of the arguments I've seen against signing codes of conduct - because the director is agreeing ahead of time to act in specific ways without evaluating the merits of each situation.)

These are the sorts of questions that would have been covered by our retainer....
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 9:26 AM  
CathyA3, respectfully, you get what you pay for, including when paying for a legal work.

Sounds like you're getting at least a few hours of legal work per year for $600.

$600 is less than an hour of legal work from a typical well-credentialed and experienced lawyer, and it's about 30 minutes of legal work from a highly-credentialed and seasoned partner at a highly sophisticated law firm.

You're not getting top-flight legal advice at that price. That's why I say, based on my experience, that a typical HOA lawyer isn't the best.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7397


07/09/2020 9:27 AM  
Cathy's observations fit our experience in our HOA.

I also agree that a property manager with a real estate license is scary. There are certified property managers who earn them under the auspices of CAI. our HOA may not hire any PM with out such credentials.

I can't imagine, as Cathy also points out, using one example to make a compelling case against all HOA attorneys. To generalize from one or a few cases is undisciplined reasoning.

PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 9:57 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/09/2020 9:27 AM
Cathy's observations fit our experience in our HOA.

I also agree that a property manager with a real estate license is scary. There are certified property managers who earn them under the auspices of CAI. our HOA may not hire any PM with out such credentials.

I can't imagine, as Cathy also points out, using one example to make a compelling case against all HOA attorneys. To generalize from one or a few cases is undisciplined reasoning.





KerryL1, as I've stated to you before, I've had experiences with MULTIPLE HOA lawyers. My experiences with them are consistent:

* Another one included various requirements in his engagement letter that were violations of the state bar's ethics rules.
* Another one didn't return calls/emails for MONTHS.

None of my Ivy League law school classmates are HOA lawyers. No Supreme Court justice was ever a HOA lawyer. That indicates the quality, in addition to my admittedly non-scientific observations.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/09/2020 10:53 AM  
Sigh.

Always the same, Paul.

“Ivy League...”

Sometimes things just fit.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 11:45 AM  
The only reputable pure HOA lawyer is one in NYC who went to Cornell. He's very sharp and very good.

Otherwise, there is one reputable law firm on Wall Street whose lawyers handle HOA work, but those other law firms' practices are real estate lawyers who also do some work for HOAs.

And the HOAs that these people cover are generally co-operatives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

A pure "HOA lawyer" otherwise is simply someone who couldn't get a job in a higher-paying practice, due to lack of quality educational credentials.

KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7397


07/09/2020 3:04 PM  
States vary; some have lengthy & complicated HOA laws. Cities vary. Your sample is too small to be generalizable to the whole USA, let alone NY state.
I would think your Ivy League law school would have taught you that. My community college taught me that.

I am curious about this: it seems that in many professions some specializations are more prestigious than others. In medicine, for instance, cardiologists and, I guess, brain surgeons have more prestige than radiologists and pediatricians. The former are still heavily male. The latter are still (I think) heavily female. Does this mean that women in medicine are at the bottom of the barrel intellectually?

Since you've told us many times you're a lawyer and maybe not so many times that you attended an Ivy League law school, is your legal specialization among the top five in your profession? What would those top five be?

We also know that not all Ivy League law schools are highly regarded. In fact, some "Public Ivy'" law schools may very well outrank yours. Isn't that correct?
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 3:42 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/09/2020 3:04 PM
States vary; some have lengthy & complicated HOA laws. Cities vary. Your sample is too small to be generalizable to the whole USA, let alone NY state.
I would think your Ivy League law school would have taught you that. My community college taught me that.

I am curious about this: it seems that in many professions some specializations are more prestigious than others. In medicine, for instance, cardiologists and, I guess, brain surgeons have more prestige than radiologists and pediatricians. The former are still heavily male. The latter are still (I think) heavily female. Does this mean that women in medicine are at the bottom of the barrel intellectually?

Since you've told us many times you're a lawyer and maybe not so many times that you attended an Ivy League law school, is your legal specialization among the top five in your profession? What would those top five be?

We also know that not all Ivy League law schools are highly regarded. In fact, some "Public Ivy'" law schools may very well outrank yours. Isn't that correct?




Nope. Mine’s in the USNews top 5.

The gender of someone has nothing to do with my position: that HOA lawyers are lower-quality than lawyers in many other specialties.

You can analyze HOA lawyers in as many objective ways as you want: rankings of their schools; pay; LSAT scores; bar exam scores; etc. They will fare worse in all of those measures than, say, First Amendment or appellate litigation lawyers. And it doesn’t take even a community college degree to see that.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 4:36 PM  
And, to add, let's look at a typical "HOA lawyer's job:

1. The relevant statutes are usually a state nonprofit act and a state condominium statute, and maybe a few other statutes. None of them are lengthy; there's not a lot of regulation beneath any of them; and the caselaw about them is not extensive. There is also the Fair Debt Collections Act and similar state statutes, but those are often ignored by "HOA lawyers".

2. The HOA has its own governing documents, but they often cover the same topics and often have similar forms.

So the "legal" side of the job isn't hard: the "law" part of it is not complex.

3. The clients (HOAs, led by board members) often are unknowledgeable about HOA matters. So the "HOA lawyer" is unlikely to be challenged or required to produce top-flight legal work (to the same extent that the "HOA lawyer" would have to produce if s/he were in another line of work, reporting to, say, heads of legal departments of Fortune 100 corporations, who would be demanding and highly sophisticated lawyers).

So the "people" side of the job isn't hard.

4. The "HOA lawyer" doesn't get paid particularly well, by comparison to his or her law school colleagues in other practices. Nonprofits led by unsophisticated board members with small budgets just can't pay much.

So the compensation side of the job is not great.

Very few highly motivated and talented people would go into the field of being a "HOA lawyer", as it's not challenging or highly paid. The high-achievers want to be corporate law dealmakers (I always like seeing clients in the Wall Street Journal, particularly when family members say, "did you see that article" and I can respond, "yes, that's my client") or, if they're litigators, appellate litigators who try a case at the Supreme Court.

AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/09/2020 4:45 PM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 07/09/2020 4:36 PM
And, to add, let's look at a typical "HOA lawyer's job:

1. The relevant statutes are usually a state nonprofit act and a state condominium statute, and maybe a few other statutes. None of them are lengthy; there's not a lot of regulation beneath any of them; and the caselaw about them is not extensive.
Given the number of times you blunder with regard to HOA and condo law here, I do not know how you can post the above and be taken seriously. Your leading blunder is advising anyone from any state to file a derivative suit. But the rules for derivative suits vary a great deal from state to state. It is no where near close to being one size fits all. It appears to me that you do not bother to do any of the HOA/condo law research you claim above is so easy. If you are an attorney, it should be even easier.
MarkW18


Posts:1290


07/09/2020 5:14 PM  
In ten years of managing property, I have used an HOA attorney twice on behalf of a client, and only for a second opinion.

Speaking for California, if a Board member can interpret their governing docs, IMHO, they shouldn't be on a Board, but I don't get to make that judgement.

The hourly rate for a HOA attorney is about $350.00. Not sure how much mileage you really get with a $600 annual retainer. I have heard the arguments and having worked for an supposed HOA attorney, you're not going to get much.

In California, unless you are really deaf, dumb and stupid, there really isn't a need for attorneys. The exception would be a incompetent board and an attorney with one hand in the HOA's pocket while leading them astray. In addition, why do you need a HOA attorney when the Bylaws mostly come from Corporation Code, not Civil Code.

I don't have a lot of respect for lawyers as I believe the system in general is rigged.

So to answer Nicole's burning question, if you can't get by using www.davis-stirling.com as your legal source, you are in a world of hurt!
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 5:37 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/09/2020 4:45 PM
Posted By PaulJ6 on 07/09/2020 4:36 PM
And, to add, let's look at a typical "HOA lawyer's job:

1. The relevant statutes are usually a state nonprofit act and a state condominium statute, and maybe a few other statutes. None of them are lengthy; there's not a lot of regulation beneath any of them; and the caselaw about them is not extensive.
Given the number of times you blunder with regard to HOA and condo law here, I do not know how you can post the above and be taken seriously. Your leading blunder is advising anyone from any state to file a derivative suit. But the rules for derivative suits vary a great deal from state to state. It is no where near close to being one size fits all. It appears to me that you do not bother to do any of the HOA/condo law research you claim above is so easy. If you are an attorney, it should be even easier.




Augustin, yes, I make lots of mistakes.

But I generally include caveats ("this is my experience in my state--yours may differ").

And nobody in his right mind would spend the same amount of time researching anything before posting with the same care and attention as he would do at work. Nobody has time for that.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 5:39 PM  
Posted By MarkW18 on 07/09/2020 5:14 PM
In ten years of managing property, I have used an HOA attorney twice on behalf of a client, and only for a second opinion.

Speaking for California, if a Board member can interpret their governing docs, IMHO, they shouldn't be on a Board, but I don't get to make that judgement.

The hourly rate for a HOA attorney is about $350.00. Not sure how much mileage you really get with a $600 annual retainer. I have heard the arguments and having worked for an supposed HOA attorney, you're not going to get much.

In California, unless you are really deaf, dumb and stupid, there really isn't a need for attorneys. The exception would be a incompetent board and an attorney with one hand in the HOA's pocket while leading them astray. In addition, why do you need a HOA attorney when the Bylaws mostly come from Corporation Code, not Civil Code.

I don't have a lot of respect for lawyers as I believe the system in general is rigged.

So to answer Nicole's burning question, if you can't get by using www.davis-stirling.com as your legal source, you are in a world of hurt!




Agreed.

ANYONE can go to law school. Literally, ANYONE.

Other professions (particularly medicine and even being a vet) are much more selective.

Lots of not-sharp lawyers out there, and not enough legal jobs, so they become HOA lawyers.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/09/2020 5:42 PM  
This is still funny.

PaulJ6 is not going to listen to others. It is simply a serious personal flaw.

I’m thinking most feel he is likely a perfect match to the usual gross caricature of an attorney.

All I can say, with absolute certainty, is that I don’t like him or his posts.

It is still funny, though to hear about pompous Ivy League attorneys.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7397


07/09/2020 5:58 PM  
One reason I haven't bought into Paul's la-de-dah claims about himself are as Augustin suggests. California's Davis-Stirling Act, btw, is a couple of hundred pages now, I think. Will look it up.

Paul also refuses to answer my question: are all Ivy League law schools high ranking?? Aren't some "public ivies" just as prestigious or even more so? So I took a quick look at top-ranked law schools and lo and behold, only three or so Ivy League law schools are in the top five. Starting at about #8, we see public universities. And some Ivies are notably missing in the top 15 (maybe no law school?).

Another reason I question Paul’s creds is that it's really difficult to believe that a graduate of a top five law school is unable to punctuate correctly. (In the US, commas & periods go inside quotations.)

I guess his elitism rubs me the wrong way too. He states that "high achievers" want to be corporate law dealmakers. Paul completely ignores other reasons for someone wanting to practice law like, oh, you know, to serve the underserved; to work for true justice for all. Not everyone in all lines of work is in it for the money and status. "To serve others" as a good old American value may be trampled upon, but still shines in our current moment.

I stand by my remarks about the gendered nature of some specialties in professions. Radiologists and pediatricians are the lowest status and perhaps lowest paid of MDs. They're heavily occupied by woman. Following Paul's reasoning, these professionals must be low achievers who also aren't very bright and who went to lousy med schools. Ludicrous? If it fits his speculation about HOA lawyers, why wouldn't it fit medicine too?

I never said I was a community college graduate. Paul only (again) is making assumptions.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 6:20 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/09/2020 5:58 PM
One reason I haven't bought into Paul's la-de-dah claims about himself are as Augustin suggests. California's Davis-Stirling Act, btw, is a couple of hundred pages now, I think. Will look it up.

Paul also refuses to answer my question: are all Ivy League law schools high ranking?? Aren't some "public ivies" just as prestigious or even more so? So I took a quick look at top-ranked law schools and lo and behold, only three or so Ivy League law schools are in the top five. Starting at about #8, we see public universities. And some Ivies are notably missing in the top 15 (maybe no law school?).

Another reason I question Paul’s creds is that it's really difficult to believe that a graduate of a top five law school is unable to punctuate correctly. (In the US, commas & periods go inside quotations.)

I guess his elitism rubs me the wrong way too. He states that "high achievers" want to be corporate law dealmakers. Paul completely ignores other reasons for someone wanting to practice law like, oh, you know, to serve the underserved; to work for true justice for all. Not everyone in all lines of work is in it for the money and status. "To serve others" as a good old American value may be trampled upon, but still shines in our current moment.

I stand by my remarks about the gendered nature of some specialties in professions. Radiologists and pediatricians are the lowest status and perhaps lowest paid of MDs. They're heavily occupied by woman. Following Paul's reasoning, these professionals must be low achievers who also aren't very bright and who went to lousy med schools. Ludicrous? If it fits his speculation about HOA lawyers, why wouldn't it fit medicine too?

I never said I was a community college graduate. Paul only (again) is making assumptions.




KerryL1, I make lots of mistakes and am highly flawed. HOA lawyers can be measured objectively. My point is that by a range of objective measures, they’re low-grade and a HOA is best served by getting a real lawyer for legal needs.

Gender has nothing to do with my position and so I’m going to ignore your attempts to make this into a man vs. woman issue. It’s not: it’s “competent vs. incompetent”, or “professional vs. unprofessional”. And the incompetent and unethical HOA lawyers I have dealt with are all white men so your attempts fail there, too.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/09/2020 6:22 PM  
And KerryL1, you should look up the USNews law school rankings. How many public law schools are in the top 5? None. So there goes your fact-free argument about public law school rankings vs. mine.
AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/09/2020 7:13 PM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 07/09/2020 5:37 PM

yes, I make lots of mistakes.
Then I think it's fair to say it is not such easy law, is it? Even for someone who graduated from a U. S. News Top 5 law school.

Also I would not characterize HOA/condo case law as "not extensive." For one, much HOA law revolves around covenants. Covenant case law dates to the mid-1800s. HOA/condo case law typically contains the usual massive citation of precedent. You may as well state that the law of real estate is not extensive.

Posted By PaulJ6 on 07/09/2020 5:37 PM

But I generally include caveats ("this is my experience in my state--yours may differ").
If you did this with any consistency, then I would not be calling you out today for often posting substantively incorrect legal information. Worse, your frequent posts stating you are an attorney mislead people into thinking you know condo/hoa law.

If you are not going to make an effort to get the law right, then appealing to your seeming authority as an attorney does not seem helpful to readers.
Posted By PaulJ6 on 07/09/2020 5:37 PM
And nobody in his right mind would spend the same amount of time researching anything before posting with the same care and attention as he would do at work. Nobody has time for that.
I am sure attorneys graduating from a Top 5 law school would never volunteer their expertise the way many here (who are well-versed in condo/hoa attorney) do. Instead, they would say what you posted: Show me the money.

Posted By PaulJ6 on 07/09/2020 3:54 AM
I realized that he (a HOA lawyer) had violated numerous HOA laws in his own course of conduct. So I sued him. He quickly folded. He acknowledged violating HOA laws (various statutes).
You left out the part where you paid, what, north of $30,000 for your victory?

I think you are over-generalizing based on your experience with one condo attorney.

Nicole, for condos having more than say about 25 units, I believe having a HOA attorney on retainer is common. I also think having a second attorney, retained strictly to address debt collection from delinquent HOA/condo members, is common.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/09/2020 7:21 PM  
Paul,

You are hilarious!
MarkW18


Posts:1290


07/09/2020 7:37 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 07/09/2020 5:42 PM
This is still funny.

PaulJ6 is not going to listen to others. It is simply a serious personal flaw.

I’m thinking most feel he is likely a perfect match to the usual gross caricature of an attorney.

All I can say, with absolute certainty, is that I don’t like him or his posts.

It is still funny, though to hear about pompous Ivy League attorneys.


it is one thing to sling mud from the cheap seats,but can you tell our audience where he is wrong?
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/09/2020 7:41 PM  
Don’t need to.

The audience knows.
MarkW18


Posts:1290


07/09/2020 7:52 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 07/09/2020 7:41 PM
Don’t need to.

The audience knows.



What I thought
MarkW18


Posts:1290


07/09/2020 8:52 PM  
In ten years and having been involved in 150 plus properties, not one of them ever had an attorney on retainer. I don't think that comment is accurate.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/10/2020 3:11 AM  
AugustinD, I consider you a friend and am not interested in arguing with you.

My experience with HOA lawyers is with SEVERAL HOA lawyers:

1. One whose engagement letter contained provisions that violated state bar ethics rules.
2. The one I sued.
3. Another who took a retainer and then quit responding.

And there are more, come to think of it:

4. The lawyer who sits on my former HOA's board and who let the HOA illegally audio record people in the building.

They consistently do not show the professionalism, quality or ethics of reputable lawyers.

I stand by my statement that HOA law is relatively easy. My knowledge of HOA law is from my lawsuit; maybe 3 hours of reviewing statutes and governing documents. You correctly point out that I make mistakes, as I freely admit, but that review, and typing up a complaint (while sitting in a lounge having a drink) was enough to prevail against a HOA lawyer who was allegedly the "best in town" in a lawsuit based on violations of HOA law, so that should count for something. And the fact that I'm able to post anything of any worth about HOA law based on that limited research shows that it's easy.

I respect you and your posts; perhaps it gets tiresome reading mine, but my respect for you will continue.

Mark, your posts are great.
AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/10/2020 7:25 AM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 07/10/2020 3:11 AM
1. One whose engagement letter contained provisions that violated state bar ethics rules.
I bet you did not report him. I bet that had you done so, the bar would do nothing. It's not such a noble profession, particularly when these $1000 an hour corporate attorneys whom you adore know darn well that people who cannot afford their rates are not getting justice and are getting thrown in jail unjustly regularly. They're in it for the money. I am glad you dig these folks. But I do not think much of how they subtract from the law and justice.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/10/2020 7:58 AM  
One of the founding partners of the law firm we use likes to tell this story:

Members of his law school class get together in December each year for a holiday dinner. It's tradition for them to go around the table and let everyone to report on what they've been up to during the previous months. There is plenty of talk about corporate mergers, foreign banking intrigue, big bucks lawsuits, and the like. But it never fails: when it's his turn the "master of ceremonies" at the other end of the table will look at him and yell "Hey, Jonesy, got any good dog poop stories for us?"

He is hugely amused by others' opinions about what he's doing with his law degree. On the other hand, he had enough business savvy in addition to his law smarts to recognize a growing niche market that could be profitably served by an alert individual such as himself, and to head up a successful and growing firm. He recognizes the snobbery displayed by some in his profession, and he just laughs about it.

Some additional folksy wisdom:

Expensive seeds do not a thriving garden make. They need to fall onto fertile soil, either natural or amended, and receive ongoing appropriate care. Without these last two things, you have pricey bird food.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/10/2020 9:41 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/10/2020 7:25 AM
Posted By PaulJ6 on 07/10/2020 3:11 AM
1. One whose engagement letter contained provisions that violated state bar ethics rules.
I bet you did not report him. I bet that had you done so, the bar would do nothing. It's not such a noble profession, particularly when these $1000 an hour corporate attorneys whom you adore know darn well that people who cannot afford their rates are not getting justice and are getting thrown in jail unjustly regularly. They're in it for the money. I am glad you dig these folks. But I do not think much of how they subtract from the law and justice.




AugustinD, I do transactional work.

And the $1000/hour corporate lawyers also work for corporations. Not for individuals.

Not individuals. Or across from individuals, unless they are individual investors. My world is all corporate deal-making, and litigation occurs when deals go bad. Corporate lawyers help companies get financed from investors and grow, which creates jobs and improves technology.

I don't know of anyone who does a job purely for the money. Money may motivate people, but successful lawyers I know of actually like their jobs, separate from the pay. I do. And businesspeople, such as MDs at large banks, make a lot more money than lawyers, so any lawyer who was purely motivated by money should go work for a bank or the like, on the business side. But lawyers generally do not.

Posted By CathyA3 on 07/10/2020 7:58 AM
One of the founding partners of the law firm we use likes to tell this story:

Members of his law school class get together in December each year for a holiday dinner. It's tradition for them to go around the table and let everyone to report on what they've been up to during the previous months. There is plenty of talk about corporate mergers, foreign banking intrigue, big bucks lawsuits, and the like. But it never fails: when it's his turn the "master of ceremonies" at the other end of the table will look at him and yell "Hey, Jonesy, got any good dog poop stories for us?"

He is hugely amused by others' opinions about what he's doing with his law degree. On the other hand, he had enough business savvy in addition to his law smarts to recognize a growing niche market that could be profitably served by an alert individual such as himself, and to head up a successful and growing firm. He recognizes the snobbery displayed by some in his profession, and he just laughs about it.

Some additional folksy wisdom:

Expensive seeds do not a thriving garden make. They need to fall onto fertile soil, either natural or amended, and receive ongoing appropriate care. Without these last two things, you have pricey bird food.




CathyA3, your point is well-taken, but that does not mean that he is a good lawyer. It just means that he found a niche that nobody much else is in. He's a good business person, certainly, to do that, though.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7397


07/10/2020 9:42 AM  
Very nice finish, Cathy, I like your HOA attorney's story. It's also important to note that, at least in CA, it's HOA attorneys, often, who handle construction defect litigation. This means they must know this aspect of CA law along with many other matters (SOLs, construction products; standards of care for various trades, etc) We collected over $5m. in our defect settlement with the developer. Neighboring high rises settled for $15m & $26m.

Paul accuses me of being "fact-free." I clearly wrote, however: "Starting at about #8, we see public universities. And some Ivies are notably missing in the top 15..." I'd think a grad form a top 5 Ivy would have better reading skills. It seems to me that the top 5-15 law schools have sought after graduates.

My MD example simply tries to show that folks enter low status specializations (and occupations) for a variety of reasons which have nothing to do with their abilities, intelligence, desire to achieve, etc. I said nothing about "white men"???

After all these months of bad-mouthing HOA attorneys, Paul NOW tells us an HOA attorney was on the board of his past HOA? Why did he wait so long?

Our last Board had two attorney on it--one, a female, had specialized in employment law and I don't know the other's specialization. On his candidate statement, he claimed a lot of background in CA HOA law. But I served with hi; he knew very little. The two of them were a close team and made a mess of our Board. The male attorney was badly defeated in the annual election along with two of his cronies (a PhD economist and a community college prof). The female attorney resigned a month later.

Mya seem odd, but these re the only two attorneys I've ever worked with or have known personally in my whole life. Must say, my impression is vey negative. But I do not generalize to all attorneys.

MarkW did not manage high rises or even properties in a downtown setting--he was in a suburban area of SoCal. Just because he never knew an HOA with an attorney on retainer, doesn't mean he knows anything about urban high rises in big cities such as mine.
AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/10/2020 10:02 AM  
PaulJ6, allegedly top 5 law school; the usual skimming-off-the-fat-of-society corporate good wages; and all: You still got the snot beat out of you at your former HOA by people you irrationally consider beneath you. I continue to believe your victory was pyrrhic. It seems to me that you're trying to 'work through' your unhappiness with the experience by beating your chest here. But I think that unhappiness is not going away anytime soon. Talk therapy is overrated.

NicoleO5: If you are still on your condo's board, motion for the directors to each offer names, by such and such date, of attorneys they would like to interview; at a board meeting agree on three HOA attorneys to interview; then hire the attorney.
AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/10/2020 10:08 AM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 07/10/2020 9:41 AM
Posted By AugustinD on 07/10/2020 7:25 AM
Posted By PaulJ6 on 07/10/2020 3:11 AM
1. One whose engagement letter contained provisions that violated state bar ethics rules.
I bet you did not report him. I bet that had you done so, the bar would do nothing. It's not such a noble profession, particularly when these $1000 an hour corporate attorneys whom you adore know darn well that people who cannot afford their rates are not getting justice and are getting thrown in jail unjustly regularly. They're in it for the money. I am glad you dig these folks. But I do not think much of how they subtract from the law and justice.


AugustinD, I do transactional work.
Blah blah. Meaning you did not report this attorney to the bar.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/10/2020 10:09 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/10/2020 10:02 AM
PaulJ6, allegedly top 5 law school; the usual skimming-off-the-fat-of-society corporate good wages; and all: You still got the snot beat out of you at your former HOA by people you irrationally consider beneath you. I continue to believe your victory was pyrrhic. It seems to me that you're trying to 'work through' your unhappiness with the experience by beating your chest here. But I think that unhappiness is not going away anytime soon. Talk therapy is overrated.

NicoleO5: If you are still on your condo's board, motion for the directors to each offer names, by such and such date, of attorneys they would like to interview; at a board meeting agree on three HOA attorneys to interview; then hire the attorney.




AugustinD, again: I consider you a friend.

I sued my former HOA and won.

In the HOA I moved from, I didn't fight. It wasn't worth it. I moved. So, no, I didn't get "the snot beat out of" me. And that HOA doesn't even use legal counsel. It has a "HOA lawyer" on its board, but that's it.

Kerry1, you stated, "We also know that not all Ivy League law schools are highly regarded. In fact, some "Public Ivy'" law schools may very well outrank yours. Isn't that correct?"

No, that's not correct. You have conceded that you're not intelligent, so it's not worth reading your ramblings.


PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/10/2020 10:17 AM  
AugustinD, I indeed did not report the HOA lawyer to the bar. I didn't have any direct client relationship with him, and I wasn't adverse to him in litigation. The bar would have ignored my complaint.

Not sure why you're suddenly so hostile, but so be it. I still think highly of you and your posts, which are pretty consistently informed and helpful.

I've made my point: HOAs should hire real lawyers, not HOA lawyers, when they have real legal needs, such as litigation or preparing governing documents. Otherwise, they'll be shredded by real lawyers who are adverse to them.

Good legal advice is worth paying for because it helps avoid problems. HOAs can, if they want, use HOA lawyers at low rates, and they'll get the protection that they paid for: not much.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:352


07/10/2020 10:32 AM  
Any value in this post has now been lost between all the useless bantering taking place.
MarkW18


Posts:1290


07/10/2020 11:26 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/10/2020 9:42 AM


MarkW did not manage high rises or even properties in a downtown setting--he was in a suburban area of SoCal. Just because he never knew an HOA with an attorney on retainer, doesn't mean he knows anything about urban high rises in big cities such as mine.



No, I never managed a high rise, but it ain't a whole lot different than a suburban setting. Sometimes, they are easier because you have more staff available to accomplish tasks. I turned down a high rise position offered by the same company your complex uses. I've worked on multi-billion dollar budgets with large corporations and the City of Los Angeles, so your complex is same potatoes to me.
MarkW18


Posts:1290


07/10/2020 11:28 AM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/10/2020 10:32 AM
Any value in this post has now been lost between all the useless bantering taking place.



I mentioned, based on experience, and being in California, no board should have a attorney on retainer. If you can't find an answer to your question on davis-stirling.com, then you shouldn't be on a board serving your community.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7397


07/10/2020 11:33 AM  
And construction defects, MarkW?
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/10/2020 11:38 AM  
Posted By MarkW18 on 07/10/2020 11:26 AM
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/10/2020 9:42 AM


MarkW did not manage high rises or even properties in a downtown setting--he was in a suburban area of SoCal. Just because he never knew an HOA with an attorney on retainer, doesn't mean he knows anything about urban high rises in big cities such as mine.



No, I never managed a high rise, but it ain't a whole lot different than a suburban setting. Sometimes, they are easier because you have more staff available to accomplish tasks. I turned down a high rise position offered by the same company your complex uses. I've worked on multi-billion dollar budgets with large corporations and the City of Los Angeles, so your complex is same potatoes to me.




Totally. MarkW adds a lot of value to this board, and HOA knowledge is often transferable.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/10/2020 11:39 AM  
Paul STILL funny.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


07/10/2020 11:59 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/10/2020 11:33 AM
And construction defects, MarkW?




Kerry, you've already admitted that you are unintelligent.

If you're sincerely asking Mark about construction defects, then that just further shows your lack of intelligence.

Otherwise, you're just taunting and trying to argue with MarkW. Poor form.
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