HOA CONDO WORLD – Puffery At It’s Finest!

I am sorry, I do not usually put the same subject matter on both of my blogs as the audiences are different. But this I cannot leave alone. A potential client called today and asked me some questions about my services. In the course of that, she said:

“There’s an attorney on the internet who advertises that they are the #1 best HOA attorney. What do you think about that? ”

My knee jerk reaction was: “I think any attorney could say that, but I would have to wonder about anyone who would. Wouldn’t you?”

Then I thought to myself – I do not know anyone who would say that, and I know lots and lots of HOA attorneys all over the State of California.

After some more reflection I wondered about what criteria a “someone” who claimed to be #1 would be using to make that claim? Biggest judgments? Most clients? Richest person?

I’d ask about criteria if I was considering going to someone who would make a bold claim like that. I don’t know of a study or poll or measuring stick that points to any one attorney anywhere as the best, let alone in California. Personally, I think any measuring stick for “the best” would have to include honesty and integrity, which to me seems lacking when someone engages in “puffery” like this. Have you seen the TV commercial defining it?

And one more thing. Happy clients are a good thing, and I have had clients who tell me they think I walk on water …. but I would never say that in an advertisement!

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4 Responses to HOA CONDO WORLD – Puffery At It’s Finest!
  1. Dale Beckes
    February 19, 2010 | 3:24 pm

    Regarding HOA attorneys – is there a reliable source of information listing HOA attorneys and especially an attorney’s track record? I sense that some HOA attorneys tend to focus on representing either Boards or homeowners, which would seem to me to be an indicator of what kind of advice one might get. For instance, while you give a lot of valuable advice to Board members, your focus seems to be more oriented toward helping homeowners, which I appreciate.

    Thanks…/Dale Beckes, Rancho Mirage, CA

    • Beth Grimm
      February 20, 2010 | 3:07 am

      I do not know of a reliable resource for “rating” attorneys that do HOA law. The best way I think to determine who is good is either through (1) referrals from a trusted source, (2) factual information presented either by the firm or by others, (3) speaking with the attorney and making a personal assessment, (4) reveiwing resources the attorney provides such as good reliable website information, books, publications, published articles presented by the attorney and others, etc. An attorney can tell you their “track record”. The question is: how reliable is the information – fact … or puffery. If they have cases that were won and they can provide citations, kudos. If they know the codes and law and can recite reliable resources, more power to them. If asked to produce the back up for statements made, or to provide reference materials or personal referrals for their claims and they cannot, then a big red flag should go up. This is the trouble with some of the websites that are created by attorneys as well as non-attorneys (and HOA or HOA owner critics). Alot of people make a lot of claims about things without making it clear that what they say is THEIR OPINION, and not necessarily that of others – such as saying “I am the #1 attorney” or “that attorney/judge/hoa board is crooked”. And then, there are various styles of “advocacy” and judging one against the other does not really make sense. It just depends on what you are looking for in a legal representative.

      As for bias, it is true that many attorneys who have only represented “one side” have developed a bias. That is because they have to believe their own arguments and ignore any redeeming factors coming from the other side or they would not be the greatest advocate. The thing, though, is that in any given situation, either side could be right and the other wrong, or maybe no one is wrong but there is definitely a problem that needs resolving. In these cases, someone heavily biased and advocating on the “side” that is acting inappropriately will have difficulty helping with the resolution. In some cases their client will not want to hear the real truth (that they are wrong).

      In some ways, practicing law with a bias for one side or the other (HOA or owner) is like politics: if you always vote the party line you will not always be on the side of good and right. It’s the same with HOA issues, if you are always assume “your side” is good and “the other side” is bad, or “your side” is right and the “other side” is wrong, you will not always be on the side of what is really good and right. But some people want the consistency from politicians of always voting the party line, and others wish that more thought was given to the actual measure that is the subject of the vote.

      Is this confusing enough? Someone who has advocated both for plaintiff and defense in a particular kind of law (such as criminal law or personal injury) or in our world of HOA vs owner and vice versa – generally has, I believe, a wider perspective enabling him or her to step outside the advocacy role and into the true “attorney [as counselor]” role and become a problem solver or finder of resolution. But – if you want a “pit bull” to fight your fight – or savagely attack the opposite “side” and scare them away, there are plenty of those around.

  2. dorisshaw
    February 23, 2010 | 7:45 pm

    As hard as it is to find an attorney to resolve conflicts within an HOA, just try to find an attorney familiar with Housing Cooperative (stockholders) who can handle maze of FHA/HUD. More treacherous than giving a polar bear a pedicure!

    • Beth Grimm
      February 27, 2010 | 7:50 am

      I agree. It’s difficult.