An HOA Lawyer Who Tells It Like It Is.

Those dang Attorneys – Sometime they are sooooooooo frustrating!

I am a lawyer.
I don’t be around the bush
I tell it like it is.

In my extensive 30+ year as an HOA lawyer, I have found that even if the news isn’t great, or what a client necessarily wants to hear, at least it provides a reality check. It’s like going to the doctor, you don’t want a vague hazy response to your questions, you want to know the truth. You want to know what is going on. You want to know how to solve your problem.

I recently made a telephone call to my elderly mother’s attorney in Iowa. She took a fall in January and she is now in a nursing home. And so it’s on me to take care of her financial affairs. After a few conversations I am looking for a new attorney. Why? I quickly got sick of him beating around the bush.

I asked him about some charges to my mother for telephone call that he was definitely asked not to make. He beat around the bush a little bit, saying he had called, and didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to. I said, ok, I would pay the bill if he had any information from the call he could send me. He said he had “information” in his head. This did not do me much good.

I also wanted a ball park figure of what the firm would charge her for doing her taxes.  I had called a couple weeks before and asked his secretary if she could get me the info on last year and the year before. They have been doing her taxes for quite a few years. Instead of her sending me the info, he called me.

I asked him what the firm generally charges for a straightforward uncomplicated return. His first answer was “Well we charge about the same for everybody.” I asked him again, what that was and he said he had no idea. He said it depended on what was involved and what was turned over to him. I told him her circumstances had not changed last year from the year before, or the year before that.

So I said, “Can you just tell me what paid she the firm last year?”

His answer : “Generally we charge about a couple hundred dollars for a straightforward tax return.” I asked again, “what did she pay last year for her returns?”

He said, “Well, in looking – about $475.” I thanked him for that information and then he said “Well, I looked it up so you would have that information, it was $496.”

I feel your pain, if you are in a situation dealing with anyone who does not give you a straight answer. This lawyer wasted my time beating around the bush. Worse, he eroded my trust.

All he had to do is have his assistant look  up what she paid last year, and email me a note.

Hopefully any attorney you are working with is willing to honestly discuss realistic ideas about what to expect when you venture into legal action or ask for a service of some kind. It is not possible in all cases to estimate the costs, because there are so many factors involved, but an attorney who is experienced should be able to rationally discuss costs in various events and provide you with a fair estimate of the best and worst case scenario … so you are informed! And there is no excuse for beating around the bush about costs already charged or paid. That’s a factual inquiry.

If you are frustrated by someone from whom you want information who is beating around the bush, feel free to come right out and ask for a straight answer.



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2 Responses to An HOA Lawyer Who Tells It Like It Is.
  1. Noreen ONeil
    March 1, 2017 | 4:10 pm

    Hi, Can you answer a question for me? Recently we had to remove 2 roof top decks to replace the old flat membrane roof. (2 stories up) These 2 decks were considered limited common area to 2 units. The board decided rather then putting back 2 separate decks, it would put one long continuous deck for safety reasons. This is because the space in between the 2 decks is a wide open flat area with no rails. And it’s a long way down. This owner rents on a short term basis and 2 kids were seen jumping on this area and could have been seriously hurt or dead if they had fallen off the edge. One owner does not want to have one long deck and has threatened to just go ahead and rebuild the single deck on his own. What can we do about this?

    • Beth Grimm
      May 25, 2017 | 12:25 am

      All I can say is that it all depends on what has happened in the past, what the documents say, whether the long deck is really necessary, whether there is a way to get a degree of separation that might work, whether the jumping caused damage or amounts to a nuisance, what the documents say (no this is not an accidental repetition), what the CC&Rs say, as they are the base regulatory document that specifies rights and obligations. As to everything else, a good lawyer can help identify what the options are and how to achieve them. I do consultations on matters like this – unfortunately I cannot afford to do them for free. Check out the process at if interested.