Best Practices for Retaining Legal Counsel

shutterstock_315036413Associations may need a lawyer for many reasons: lawsuits, compliance questions, etc. If your HOA finds that it requires constant legal advice, it may be a good idea to consider retaining legal counsel.

Determine Why You Need a Lawyer

Before you go out and retain a lawyer for your association, determine why you may need a lawyer. If you only need one once every few years for random issues, it may not be worth the cost. The association’s finances may be best spent elsewhere than on retaining an attorney you rarely use. However, if you find that you frequently need the guidance, assistance or counsel of an attorney, keeping one on retainer can be a great way to quickly get those things solved. For example, if your association is currently updating policies and rules, it may be a good idea to have legal counsel on retainer, so you can have them when you need them.

Calculate How Much You Can Spend

Of course, having legal counsel on retainer isn’t free. Your HOA will need to pay a fee to keep the attorney ready to help at a moment’s notice. The cost is directly associated with how often you’ll need the lawyer, which is another reason it’s important to know why you’ll need an attorney. If you only have a few questions each month, you’ll probably only need to retain about two hours. Make sure you calculate this carefully. You don’t want to pay for four hours and end up only using one. You won’t get your money reimbursed.

Check Your Various Insurance Policies

Another thing to do before you get a lawyer is to check the HOA’s insurance policies. In some cases, if someone sues the association, the courts may award an attorney at no fee to you. If the only reason you need legal counsel is in the event your association is sued, it may not be necessary to retain a lawyer.

Having a lawyer on retainer is an excellent business decision, but only if you need one. If you frequently need legal assistance, it could be worth the money, but if you rarely require help, don’t waste the association’s finances.

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