If your association is contemplating filing a transition and/or construction defect related lawsuit, or is currently involved in a lawsuit with a contractor that worked on, and/or repaired common elements or property, it is logical to first approach corporate counsel regarding these claims. However, during that meeting, the Board and Management should ask serious questions of counsel in order to ensure that counsel is best equipped to handle this particular construction-related dispute. There are 5 important questions to ask counsel, to ensure that its rights protected , counsel is up to the challenge and that any fee arrangement is best and feasible.
Question V: Do you have references from other clients?
Other members of service-related industries are generally asked to provide references identifying current or former clients before being hired. For some reason, however, lawyers are rarely asked for references, particularly when it comes to specific matters and issues. When hiring a construction defect or transition attorney questions such as, “do you do this type of work” and “what is your success rate” are a good start. But, during this important process, the Board Members should obtain specific references identifying past and present clients represented by each law firm. Former clients have already been through the process, and thus have the benefit of looking back on the entire transition and/or litigation. Former clients also tend to provide a more accurate view of their case, the firm and the lawyers. Actually calling those other Board Members and asking questions like, “how long did the process take”, “are there things that you weren’t told prior to the litigation being filed”, “what type of communication was mainained through the process” and “what would you have changed about the way the case was handled” are all valid questions that most former clients will be happy to answer. If the Board Members provided fail to call back, or are not helpful, don’t hesitate to request additional references. Any good service provider should be able to provide a number of references that can offer a review of their services. These references, coupled with the information obtained via the other parts of this series, should give the Board a comfort level that it has done its due diligence, and acted in accordance with their fiduciary duties, in finding the best possible attorney for their crucial transition and/or construction defect action.