Barker Martin

Condo-HOA Blog

Don't Buy It Twice

If you are an association manager or board member and regularly receive communications from the association's attorney, you should consider creating a physical and/or virtual file where important emails and opinion letters are kept. There are several potential benefits to creating a Legal Advice file for your association.

First, having a go-to location for legal communications may help prevent repeated requests for legal advice. A repeat question might be because board members change from term to term or a new manager is working with the association and they have no good way of knowing what advice the association received before their tenure.  Either way, the association may have already paid an attorney for the analysis, advice or opinion.

Beyond potentially saving your association money by making it easier to access and utilize legal advice you have already received, maintaining a Legal Advice file has several other benefits.

One benefit is organizational.  Keeping all legal advice in one place should make you more efficient when researching a question or problem.  When an issue arises and you can turn to a Legal Advice file, you should be able to avoid combing through hundreds of prior emails or boxes of documents.  Board members, and sometimes even managers, change, and the new recruits will appreciate organized files.

Another benefit is to expedite and simplify records retention and review.  Many of our clients receive records review requests from owners and prospective purchasers.  As a general rule, legal advice and correspondence with association legal counsel is privileged and should not be made available for review and copying by non-board members.  Plus, you may have a duty to provide access to the records without undue delay.  You should not need to comb through all your association's records to pull privileged communications each time you receive a records review request.  By creating and maintaining a Legal Advice file, you can avoid comingling privileged documents with the rest of the association's records.

Notwithstanding the above, if you have previously received legal advice for a particular situation, and a similar situation arises again with slightly different facts, definitely give us a call.  Just having the prior advice as a starting point can save your association money.  Also, laws change, so relying on that 10-year old opinion might not be reasonable.

As always, if we can be of assistance, please give us a call!