E.P. from Wayne County, Michigan writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
If some residents want to privately ask questions of the association lawyer regarding the cancellation of the annual meeting (with no cause given), is it the lawyer’s responsibility to notify the Board of Directors?
Mister Condo replies:
E.P., the association attorney is employed directly by the Board of Directors on behalf of the association and is beholden and accountable to the Board of Directors. The individual members of the association should not be in contact with the association attorney unless the Board has directed them to do so. Attorneys are bound by fiduciary duty and cannot represent both parties in a dispute should that dispute escalate into legal action. Since the attorney would be representing the association in any legal matter, he or she cannot offer legal advice to a potential litigant against the association. In this case, homeowners concerned with cancellation of the annual meeting might actually need to sue the association for not holding the annual meeting. In that case, the concerned homeowners would file their own suit, very likely needing to hire their own attorney to represent them. In other words, if unit owners contact the association’s attorney with legal concern, the attorney is most certainly bound to notify the Board of Directors and alert them to the potential liability. Even though the association members’ common fees ultimately pay the fee for the attorney, the attorney does not work directly for them and they should not contact the association attorney unless instructed to do so by the Board or if they are being sued by the Board and need to interact with the attorney in a legal capacity. All the best!