Choosing an Attorney The Best Legal Fit for Your Association

Not every condominium or homeowners’ association is going to run afoul of the law—the happy truth is that litigation and legal trouble are relatively rare occurrences. However, even the most upstanding board in New Jersey must navigate a labyrinth of association law in the course of serving its ownership, and the odds are that its trusty group of volunteers will include few, if any, qualified legal professionals. 

So what to do in order to ensure that your association’s business remains on the up-and-up? Hiring one of the aforementioned legal eagles would be a good start, sure, but how best to ascertain which attorney or firm is the one to guide your association right and true? Turns out, choosing a legal pro isn't so different from choosing any other kind of service provider your HOA might need—even if the stakes are somewhat higher.

Trust Your Associates

Sometimes, the best advice on which professional to hire comes from those with whom you already have strong professional relationships. In the case of a condo or co-op board, a good place to start is your property manager. 

“Most referrals come by way of a management company who has dealt with an attorney and/or law firm on other buildings, and are quite happy with services rendered,” says Denise DeNicola, an associate with the Philadelphia office at the law firm of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP. “And an individual needs special ‘people skills’ to represent a co-op or condo board. An attorney who can’t make the time to show compassion and patience and have the ability to hand-hold when necessary will not succeed as a condo/co-op attorney.”

Fortunately, the burden of meeting with qualified attorneys does not fall entirely upon the condo or co-op. An attorney who possesses the people skills cited by DeNicola is also one adept at networking, and may well cross paths with community decision-makers at local events, trade shows, and other venues. “Most law firms with a devoted practice in community association law spend a great percentage of time making and nurturing new relationships,” notes Jennifer Loheac, a shareholder attorney with the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff in Morristown. 

Read More...

Related Articles

When to Outsource Maintenance

...and When to DIY

Working With Your Support Professionals

How (and When) Boards Should Speak Up

Hiring a New Super

Finding the Best Fit for Your Community

 

3 Comments

  • I live in a 112 unit condo complex that is managed by a professional property management firm. Recently, we had a change in the individual who actually manages our complex. After a few months, the new property manager had some sort of disagreement with our property handyman, and he fired him. The vast majority of the homeowners were taken aback, because in the past 20 years, we've had several incompetent and untrustworthy handymen, but the last one has been here over 5 years and he's good and nearly everyone likes what he does for the complex as well as what he does on his own time, and in their private condos, for them. No one on the board knew of the dismissal until after the fact, and it was never voted upon. The service company actually pays the individual, because the board chose to do it that way to avoid the extra paperwork of employment. Is there anything that we can do to get a hearing regarding this. Both the board and the management company say NO.
  • How do I get the condominium association to clean up the mold and mildew you and at least get the yardwork done in my community and how can I stop the fees from going up on my dues here every month I live in Winterhaven Florida at Cassa Del Sole and I am having a problem wish I had never thought in here and I am old and this is my savings
  • I have use my savings to buy a commando now I find out her condo association is broke and we do not have the money to fix and repair things in our neighborhood. Her face from going up and avoid assessment phase I am getting to where I cannot afford food or medicine or going to the doctor I am running out of money fast can you please help