Association Attorneys: Who Do They Represent?

It is common at annual meetings that the association attorneys are told something similar to the following:  “The Association pays your bills with my assessments, so you represent me.”

This common misconception often extends not only from the unit owners, but also from the board members. The attorney represents the association as the corporate entity. The client is the corporation.  This relationship is best explained away by stating whom the association attorney does not represent.

The association attorney does not represent the individual board members.  The board acts as the decision-making body under the governing documents of the association to seek and obtain the legal advice of counsel. The association is run by the entire board as one body, and the attorney represents the association, so the attorney has a duty to the board as a whole, not to any individual board member.  The attorney cannot keep any communications with one or more board members confidential from the other board members. The association attorney does not represent the individual members of the association. The attorney can only work for the association if the requested work was approved by the board as a whole on behalf of the corporation.

The association attorney does not represent the property manager or management company. The managers and attorneys work together on behalf of the association, but are not affiliated with one another.  Both are independently chosen by the board, after careful consideration.  The manager cannot tell the association which attorney to hire and the attorney cannot tell the association which manager to hire.  It is for the board to determine who is the correct fit for the association and its best interests.

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