When you need a Body Corporate lawyer for the first time many committee members find themselves in new and unfamiliar territory. When looking for a Body Corporate lawyer (whether it be ourselves or others in the industry) these are key questions you need to ask to be confident that you will get the right advice.
1. Do you have a recognised expertise in Body Corporate law?
Risk management in a committee context is making sure that the right advice has been sought and received. How long has the lawyer been in the industry? Do they have industry accreditation and relationships? How many current body corporate matters do they have on foot? What is their level of experience in body corporate matters? What big matters have they acted on where the client went with them because they were the best lawyers?
2. Do you act for all different types of involved parties such as body corporate managers, building managers, receivers, financiers and lot owners?
The benefit of acting for all different parties is that lawyers develop a breadth of experience and understanding of the full range of issues that can present themselves, and importantly, an insight into how the different parties would respond to an issue. This can be managed this to your advantage.
3. Do you have a dispute resolution team that is familiar with strata disputes and has the capacity to take on even the largest disputes?
If an issue results in conflict, it is important to know that you have a complete legal team who can seamlessly assist and act for you to resolve the dispute quickly. Not all lawyers have their own dispute resolution experts that have current knowledge of the unique issues of strata disputes. Our team is split between contentious and non-contentious matters. Both types of law require different skill sets that can be difficult to tie together.
4. Do you have Workplace Health and Safety experts that can advise on issues and regulatory changes specific to bodies corporate?
Workplace Health and Safety in the context of Body Corporate is often overlooked, however with regulatory changes it is critical that your lawyers are able to provide you with the latest information and practical advice for legal compliance.
5. Can I have an estimate of your fees in writing?
The legal fees for Body Corporate matters can quite often be estimated with a degree of accuracy. Your lawyers should be able to provide you with a written cost estimate.
6. Is your fee an estimate only?
Unless your lawyer is able to provide a fixed fee option, the fees will only be an estimate.
7. If the cost changes, when will you let me know?
Your lawyer should be able to have a frank conversation with you in advance if it looks like the estimate will be exceeded.
8. When the committee engages a lawyer, is there a lot of paperwork to get started?
Lawyers need to meet the requirements set out in the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld) as well as those governed by the Queensland Law Society (QLS). Prior to commencing any project or transaction you will be asked to sign a document called a Cost Agreement which is a requirement of the QLS and something all lawyers should provide.