Abraham Lincoln once said: “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker, the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.”
Certainly since good old Abe’s time, interpretations of lawyers have varied; however, possessing the ability to compromise and be a peacemaker are characteristics co-op and condo boards seek. Whether a building is a large condominium or small walk-up co-op, having competent, accessible legal counsel is vital, with the professional in question serving as both a legal guard dog of sorts as well as a trusted ombudsman.
Finding an Attorney
“Like any other type of legal work, your best marketing is good work that leads to referrals,” says attorney Ronald Steinvurzel of the White Plains-based Steinvurzel Law Group PC. “The majority of referrals come from property mangers. I develop relationships with property mangers, so when a legal issue comes up for one of the buildings they represent, the board president will say ‘We need an attorney,’ " and the property manager will invariably call him.
Like Steinvurzel, whose firm handles upwards of 30 co-op and condominium clients in the metropolitan area, Jeffrey S. Reich of the New York City-based Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP says that a firm’s reputation is a key building block to attracting new clients.
“The great majority of buildings have a relationship with an attorney. Relationships are passed on and bridged one board to the next. If a board is not happy with their current attorney, they will [usually] elect one or two people to do an exploration into finding counsel,” Reich continues. “They will ask their accountant, their managing agent, conduct online research, or attend seminars.”