(Excerpts from a 2015 publication by)
Donie Vanitzian, JD
Question: I’m a director at my homeowner association. It’s painful to admit, but the board made a terrible mistake in the attorney we hired. Our management company representative was taking a real estate class where another attorney from his firm was soliciting business for him. Without board knowledge or consent, the management representative turned over all our association files and information. Before realizing what had happened we received a horrendous bill for his “review of association operations.”
Soon we learned of his agenda and that he’s not a nice person. He likes to stick it to people, likes to hurt people, and he enjoys power and dirty tricks. He creates “projects” for himself for the sole purpose of generating invoices for us to pay. The board voted to fire him but he shows up uninvited at every meeting, making us uncomfortable conducting business. How can we get rid of him?
Answer: Sticking it to people, abusing power and playing dirty tricks are not part of the lawful practice of law. The board must take an unyielding stance with the law firm and management company. Both are vendors that must obey the board’s directions,
It’s your association. It’s your meeting. Eject anyone who is not invited, including the attorney. If meetings are held on association property, the lawyer is trespassing if he stays after being asked to leave. You can and should call the police.
Lawyers have ethical duties and professional responsibilities they must comply with in regard to dealing with and retaining clients. The attorney’s failure to meet these obligations makes his agreement for services voidable. If your management company approved charges without board authorization, it shares in the responsibility for reimbursement.