In Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Dick the Butcher suggests killing the lawyers in the context of a revolution. “Killing the lawyers” has been interpreted to either contemplate a nirvana in which annoying attorneys with their endless red tape are no longer around to stop normal people from living happy lives, or to lay the groundwork to prevent the rule of law from stopping a coup before it is too late.
I tend to interpret this line as the latter. I truly believe that attorneys – and especially, attorneys in our field of practice – are necessary to ensure that the law is upheld, respected, and understood by owners, Boards, and managers alike. We are often a “necessary evil.”
Viewing attorneys as something evil, many communities seek to avoid the need for legal counsel. After all, attorneys are expensive, and they often tell Boards and homeowners to stop a particular course of action contrary to the desires of the counseled party. It is incumbent upon Boards and their professional advisers to recognize circumstances where an attorney is necessary or appropriate. When those circumstances occur – CALL THE LAWYER FIRST!
If you know you are going to have a difficult meeting, whether it is a hotly contested election, a controversial special assessment, or a difficult homeowner who won’t take “no” for an answer, call the association’s attorney to check his or her availability before scheduling the meeting if at all possible. Many community association attorneys attend multiple evening meetings every week – particularly during annual meeting, budgeting, and election season – and if you make sure your attorney is available before you schedule a meeting, you will be better able to address the hurdles before you at that meeting. We recognize you can’t always plan for a difficult meeting – sometimes, the difficulty rears its head the day before the meeting occurs – but get your attorney involved early to protect the Association and the rule of law, and make your life easier.