In today’s economy, co-ops and condos are looking for ways to cut costs wherever they can, and many are turning to examining their legal bills. The problem is two-fold: first off, you don’t want to compromise your relationship with your attorney or secondly, sustain risk high costs resulting from negligence, misinterpretation of documents, or other oversights.
Bruce Cholst, a partner with the Manhattan-based law firm of Rosen Livingston & Cholst LLP, says that every co-op and condo needs a law firm to help them navigate everyday legal issues such as contracts, sublets, and collection actions, as well as less-common ones like full-blown lawsuits.
Paying By the Hour
“The vanilla standard in this field is the hourly rate concept,” Cholst says. “Sometimes we will offer a flat fee on certain projects where we can gauge the amount of time based on our experiences and we’ll take the risk.”
The truth is even if there’s no big lawsuit to straighten out, legal fees can really add up for a building.
“The financial pressure is on everyone at this stage and I believe that attorneys understand that the building cannot continue to pay for services they are not fully utilizing,” says Adam Berenson, vice president and partner of Manhattan’s Dermer Management. “We generally recommend a building commit to a building attorney and use them almost exclusively; there is of course special instances when you would make an exception to this. This generally keeps everyone happy.”