Your Building's Counsel A Vital Relationship

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.”

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2 Comments

  • What about when a resident accuses the board of managers for abuse of power and willful misconduct. Is the attorney defending them or does the insurance company represent them in any way?
  • Ronald Steinvurzel, Esq. on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:18 AM
    Jeanette, in the scenario you propose, unless the Board possesses insurance beyond the usual coverage for personal injury and property damage, the Board is not likely to have insurance coverage for these claims. As such, the Board would have to hire its own counsel to defend against any such action.